Miracle Leagues play ball

Suzanne Schnieders, right, is all smiles as Alisha Rehagen, left, helps her put on her batting helmet before stepping out of the dugout for an at bat during Miracle League baseball games at Binder Park on Friday.

Suzanne Schnieders, right, is all smiles as Alisha Rehagen, left, helps her put on her batting helmet before stepping out of the dugout for an at bat during Miracle League baseball games at Binder Park on Friday.

Jefferson City’s Breakfast Lions Club has taken on the mission of fundraising for a rubberized baseball field for the capital city’s Miracle Baseball League of Central Missouri.

Other Lions Clubs in the city have also stepped up to help with fundraising.

There are more than 250 Miracle Leagues across the country, in addition to Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia. Collectively, they serve more than 200,000 children and young adults with disabilities.

Deb Hendricks, a mother of a Miracle League player and a member of the Breakfast Lions Club, said the league includes 65 players ages 5-18 years old. There are three divisions, which all play Friday evenings May through June. If needed, volunteers help players bat, field and run the bases.

Hendricks’ son, Chance, has Down syndrome and has played in Jefferson City’s Miracle League every year of its seven-year existence.

She said there have been players with Cerebral Palsy, blind or low vision, deaf or hard of hearing and other disabilities.

After the league’s first exhibition game seven years ago, Hendricks said she knew it would last.

“I looked and saw a mother who had tears streaming down her face,” Hendricks said. “She said she never thought she would see her son do something like this.”

Hendricks said after people watch the kids play, they’re hooked.

The league has considered a rubberized field for nearly five years.

“It’s easy on joints for kids who may have ambulatory issues,” Hendricks said. “It’s also resistant to losing game-play due to weather.”

Lisa Cook, mother of 11-year-old Quentin who plays in the league, believes every child deserves a chance to be involved in sports. The Miracle League provides that.

She said the rubberized field is a great project for everyone involved in the league.

“It’ll even help the children in wheelchairs and walkers,” Cook said.

The Breakfast Lions Club has asked the Jefferson City’s Parks and Recreation Commission for support and endorsement of the idea for the all-weather, rubberized field. The Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department operates the Miracle League.

“The commission agreed to endorse the idea so they (the club) can move forward with fundraising,” said Bill Lockwood, director of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department. “We hope to cooperate with them to find a site within parks (for a rubberized field), although we don’t have a particular site in mind.”

He said the agreement is that the field would be controlled and maintained by Parks and Recreation, and would also be used by other parks programs.

Hendricks said the Lions Clubs hope to begin fundraising this fall for the new field.

“The target is $150,000,” she said. “But, Lions Club International has a grant program for projects like this that matches up to $75,000. So we have a $75,000 local fundraising goal.”

She said she would love to see the Miracle League play the 2016 season on the new, rubberized field.

If you would like more information about the Breakfast Lions Club, visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JeffersonCityBreakfastLions.

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