Special-needs baseball field opens at Orchard Park
Opening Day ceremonies for Miracle Field are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday at Orchard Park, 4808 W. 9th Street. Scheduled attendees include Mayor Carl Brewer, Vice Mayor Janet Miller and other City Council Members
The first athletic complex of its kind in Kansas, Miracle Field is designed for children and adults with disabilities. The field is smaller than standard baseball fields, featuring baselines and a pitching mound closer together and a shorter distance between home plate and the center field fence to increase homerun opportunities. The field features a smooth, cushioned rubberized surface to prevent injuries and eliminate barriers for participants using wheelchairs, walkers or crutches. The ball park also features an open design to ensure more ease of movement than standard parks. There are reserved seats in the bleachers and spacious dugouts for those in wheelchairs. The field will host games of the Miracle League of Wichita, which includes baseball for disabled youth age 5 to 18. Every player bats each inning and there are no outs and no score. Each player is accompanied by an “Angel in the Outfield” assigned to assist them as needed.
“We are so pleased to have a special baseball field in one of our parks, said Miller, the Vice Mayor whose District VI includes Miracle Field. “It will provide new and important opportunities for many Wichitans who are not adequately served by traditional fields.”
Miracle field is the result of a partnership between the City of Wichita Park & Recreation Department, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Via Christi and Lainie Armstrong, founder of For the Love of Chance Center. In 2009, the City Council approved using $300,000 in Capital Improvement Project funds to design and build the field. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Via Christi contributed an additional $66,054.
“This was a real need in our community and we’re thrilled to help make it happen,” said Jill Bosely with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Via Christi.
Armstrong added: “For the Love of Chance Center is proud to have started the first Miracle League of Wichita. We are very thankful to our volunteers and players and are excited to play ball on the new field.”
Saturday’s opening ceremony will include a ribbon-cutting and guest speakers such as Stephanie Davis, Program Director with The Miracle League Association. Participants from the league and their families will also be in attendance with the first game starting at 10 a.m. Indoor gym games and inflatables will be available for family members throughout the day.
Miracle Field is now open for additional league opportunities. Call Mark Lowry, Director of Orchard Recreation Center at 316-337-9244 for more information.