About

The Miracle League (www.miracleleague.com) is a national organization dedicated to bringing baseball fields to communities that are safe for kids and adults with disabilities to play in an organized league. There are currently 275 other United States Miracle Leagues that make it possible for 250,000+ children with physical, cognitive and/or emotional disabilities to play baseball. We want to bring the same opportunities to families in Louisville so wheelchairs, walkers, safety concerns, physical and cognitive challenges will no longer keep them from playing a game that we all love.

Our total goal for the project of $2 million is focused on the construction of a dedicated baseball field, playground and splash-pad for children with special needs and their families. We are pursuing funding for the project during 2016 and 2017, with the intent to begin construction in 2017 and play the first games on Louisville’s Miracle League Field in the spring 2018. Below you will find some history and additional information on our project.

Miracle League of Louisville and the Project

In 2011, former Major League pitcher and Louisville native, Trever Miller, was playing for the Louisville Bats, and spoke with his good friend and high school teammate, former University of Louisville baseball player Shawn Freibert, about the Miracle League he helped form in Sarasota, Florida. Both Shawn and Trever were parents of special needs children, and soon thereafter in 2014 Shawn took the steps to formalize the Miracle League of Louisville, creating a board of directors and initiating discussions with the City of Louisville, Metro Parks and Fern Creek Baseball to secure a location and approval to build a dedicated field for children with disabilities.

The Dream Foundation quickly became a natural partner by bringing the expertise, experience and vision to make the Miracle League of Louisville not just a baseball facility but a fully accessible complex where children of all ages and abilities can play together on a safe baseball field. Our vision is to create a structured baseball league for children with disabilities to be integrated into an existing, traditional baseball organization.

The baseball complex is a $2 million project featuring fully accessible baseball facilities ($1.25 million) and a fully accessible playground and splash pad, additional parking, accessible restrooms and improved concession areas ($750,000). The complex will be located within Fern Creek Park at 8703 Ferndale Road in southeast Jefferson County. Through a formal long-term lease agreement, the City of Louisville and Louisville Metro Parks have committed to manage park maintenance and operations.

We conservatively estimate that 250 – 300 children with disabilities will participate in Miracle League baseball programming in the first year. Over 10,000 children in Louisville and the surrounding area (within a 45 minute radius) have been identified with a disability that would make them eligible to play baseball in a Miracle League program rather than struggling with the obstacles and safety concerns associated with a traditional baseball league.

The main focus of this initiative is the creation and development of the Little League-size baseball field with the no-fault pour and play surface that allows children with all types of disabilities to play safely. The field is fully accessible to wheelchairs and safe for children with other disabilities as it is a completely smooth, softer surface that allows for safe play.

A fully accessible playground and splash pad will be adjacent to the baseball facility as a supportive aspect of the project. It will be the first multi-purpose play area in a Metro Park in the southeast section of Jefferson County. The addition of these facilities opens up potential usage to tens of thousands of area children. Families will have the opportunity for all their children to play together in one place –and maybe equally as important is creating a safe environment that the parents and families of these children can not only watch, but also enjoy seeing their children playing ball.

The following summarizes the primary elements of the project:

• Baseball field as described is slightly smaller than a regular-sized Little League field;
• Fully accessible playground and splash pad adjacent to the ball field;
• Renovation of existing restrooms, concession stand and parking areas of Fern Creek Park for the elements that ensure complete accessibility for children with disabilities

The project budget includes three years of operating expense, projected at approximately $40,000 per year, to cover facility upkeep and maintenance, equipment purchases, and subsidized funding for participants in need of assistance.

Miracle Leagues in the U.S.

In 1998, Atlanta’s Rockdale Youth Baseball Association invited the first child with a disability to play baseball. The next year, the league began with 35 children with disabilities who were invited to play baseball on a typical field within a baseball complex.The main concern was the playing surface, presenting potential safety hazards for players using wheelchairs or walkers. In that first season, league organizers learned that over 75,000 children in Metro Atlanta had disabilities limiting their ability to participate in team sports. More than playing baseball, the Miracle League is about making new friends, building self-esteem and being treated just like other athletes. League play serves children who are excluded or limited, whether intentionally or not, from conventional baseball leagues and most other types of team sports.

Miracle Leagues around the country proclaim the many benefits experienced by the children and others who volunteer to assist these special athletes in play, but especially the kids helping other kids. League play not only “normalizes” the children with disabilities in the eyes of their peers, but helps their volunteer “buddies” to develop compassion and the ability to relate to new friends with special needs.