TAVARES, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - With the very first pitch and a crack of the bat on Monday, players with the Miracle League of South Lake County kicked off their spring 2016 season at their new home base - the Miracle Field of Lake County.
“Here today, we are proud to present a recreational facility for all, where we can offer the opportunity for those of all levels of abilities to play America’s favorite pastime – baseball,” said Chairman Sean Parks, who welcomed the crowd of more than 200 players, family members and supporters.
Located at Lake Idamere Park, 12335 County Road 448, Tavares, the Miracle Field features a custom-designed, cushioned, synthetic surface that can accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and other assistive devices, allowing persons with mental and physical disabilities the opportunity to play baseball or traverse the five-lane track.
The field includes pavilions, shade structures, spectator bleachers, benches and picnic tables, and is directly next to Lake Idamere Park’s Boundless Playground, a unique play area created to assure that children with special needs are able to play in a safe space.
Commissioner Jimmy Conner, who represents District 3, offered a personal story about his terminally ill brother who died at age 18, and noted that when he was growing up, there were no similar facilities for special needs children.
“This is just the beginning,” said Commissioner Conner. “We have a lot of great things happening out here. I think it’s just awesome that we have a commission that really cares about our community and is willing to stick their necks out for projects like this.”
Vice Chairman Welton Cadwell said commissioners envisioned this project over decade ago. “As an advocate of parks and recreation for all, I’m thrilled that the newest Miracle Field is right here in Lake County – only the second in all of Central Florida,” he said.
The field was made possible with the support of the Lake County Board of County Commissioners and funding through the penny sales tax, a state grant, the Miracle League Fundraising Committee and the Education Foundation of Lake County, at a total cost of $640,000.
The Kiwanis Club of Lady Lake donated a $1,200 check to the Education Foundation of Lake County in support of the Miracle Field.
“This has been a culmination of a lot of effort by a lot of people over a period of time,” said Chairman of Lake County’s Parks, Recreation & Trails Advisory Board, Mike Stone. “It’s not a celebration for us … it’s a celebration for these families. The trials and tribulations that they go through daily to let their child be involved is the reason we are doing this.”
The Miracle Field of Lake County’s baseball field will initially be open to the public seven days a week from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., with the exception of scheduled league games or private rentals, and the track will be open from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., seven days a week. Cleats, spikes and heels are not allowed on the field or track surface.
“Love people for who they are, not for who they’re not,” President of the Miracle League of Lake County Tony Ferris said in closing. “When you start something, you never know what it might become. I have a feeling that today is the start of something big.”
For more information about the Miracle Field of Lake County, contact the Lake County Parks & Trails Division at 352-253-4950, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/parks or www.facebook.com/LakeCountyFLParks.