Pirates Charities, the philanthropic arm of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is partnering with the Indiana County YMCA to build Indiana County's first Miracle League Baseball field, which is being constructed specifically for children and adults with special needs.
The new field, located on the grounds of the YMCA of Indiana County, will be called the Pirates Charities Miracle League Field - Indiana County, and will be home to the Miracle League of Indiana County (MLOIC). The MLOIC is a charitable organization that provides the opportunity for children with mental and/or physical disabilities a chance to experience playing baseball in a league-based environment.
Pirates Charities will contribute $150,000 to the MLOIC to help defray construction costs. The specially designed field will allow children with special needs the ability to realize their dream of playing baseball, many of them for the very first time. As important, these children will now have the opportunity to develop relationships with their peers and coaches while playing on their very own field.
"We are extremely excited to have Pirates Charities join us in providing a baseball league for children and adults who otherwise may not have the opportunity to play," said Nancy Sherry-Helsel, Co-chair of MLOIC. "Even more, the goodwill of Pirates Charities will extend well beyond this gift as they assist us in raising additional funds and in recognizing these truly remarkable children each year. This contribution, coupled with the generosity of the YMCA of Indiana County, provides us with a very solid foundation on which to move forward with our plans to begin league play in 2014 or 2015."
While this field will be the first of its kind in Indiana County, it is the sixth field that Pirates Charities has played a vital role in constructing.
"One of the reasons why I love being a part of the Pirates and the game of baseball is the ability our unique platform gives us to make a positive impact on others throughout the region," said Bob Nutting, Chairman of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pirates Charities. "This project is exactly what Pirates Charities is all about. Personally, there is nothing better than to see the smiles on the children's faces and the proud tears in the eyes of the parents as every child, no matter what challenge they may face, will be able to experience the dream of playing baseball."
The Miracle League of Indiana County has two target populations: 1) all individuals challenged by special needs who reside in Indiana, Armstrong, Cambria, Westmoreland, and Jefferson Counties 2) all organizations serving those with special needs located in these counties.
Indiana County and the surrounding counties are in desperate need for a Miracle League Field to meet the needs of children and adults with special needs in Indiana County. Statistics show that 2.4 percent of the population between the ages of 5 to 17 have ambulatory and/or self-care disabilities. The percentage increases to 6.2 percent for adults, ages 18 to 65. These individuals currently do not have access to a baseball field that is handicap-accessible or is specially-designed to accommodate supportive devices like wheel chairs, crutches and body braces.
There are currently 250 Miracle League organizations across the country, including Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia. The Miracle League is proud to serve over 200,000 children and young adults with disabilities.