The Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities have announced a partnership with Variety Kansas City and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation to build two adaptive baseball fields in Olathe, Kan., and Independence, Mo. The projects are possible with proceeds from the 2012 Major League Baseball Gatorade All-Star Workout Day held at Kauffman Stadium in July 2012.
The two fields will be constructed at McCoy Park, located near Hwy 24 and Delaware in Independence, and at the Olathe Northwest High School Athletic Complex, 21300 College Blvd. in Olathe. Construction on both projects is scheduled to begin later this spring with the completion date tentatively set for this fall.
The Royals and Royals Charities hosted a press conference this morning at Kauffman Stadium announcing both projects. The press conference was preceded by a breakfast event featuring Jessica Long, a 12-time Paralympic Gold Medalist. Following the announcement, several Royals Alumni members toured Kauffman Stadium with youth from Variety Children's Charity. Former Royals participating in today's events included Jaime Bluma, Tom Burgmeier, Al Fitzmorris, Steve Jeltz, Dennis Leonard, Jeff Montgomery, Rod Myers, Joe Randa, Shawn Sedlacek and Jerry Terrell.
Below are highlights of both adaptive field projects.
The Independence Ability Field at McCoy Park
The City of Independence Parks and Recreation Department is transforming a section of McCoy Park into an accessible baseball field and play area for kids with and without disabilities. The park, which is located in the shadow of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum, will feature a play area designed by Unlimited Play, Inc., with specialized equipment ensuring all children can participate regardless of limitations created by disabilities. Jackson County (Mo.) has more than 3,800 children with disabilities, the largest number of any county in the Kansas City area.
Additional support for this field is provided by the City of Independence Parks and Recreation Department, State Farm and Unlimited Play.
Olathe Miracle League Field
The newest addition to the Olathe Northwest High School Athletic Complex will serve as the home field for the Miracle League of Olathe. Since 2004, the Olathe Miracle League has played its games in the backyard of Ricky Hernandez, a youngster bound to a wheelchair whose family has graciously hosted more than 25 disabled children on Saturdays in the spring and fall. The Dream Factory built the custom baseball field at Ricky's home more than eight years ago after hearing of his dream to play baseball. The construction of this new adaptive field will help the Miracle League of Olathe reach more children in the district.
Additional support for this field is provided by City of Olathe Parks and Recreation Department, Olathe Medical Center, the Olathe Chamber of Commerce, Mid-America Nazarene University and Strickland Construction.
After contributions to these two projects, remaining All-Star funds will support future field projects as part of Royalty Fields matching grant program. Created in 2006, the ongoing Royals Charities program strives to improve baseball and softball facilities across the Midwest. With these two adaptive baseball fields, nearly 70 fields have received financial support since its inception. Baseball and softball programs in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas or South Dakota may apply for a Royalty Fields matching grant for major renovations. For more information, visit www.royals.com/royaltyfields.
MLB and the Royals donated approximately $4 million from a portion of the proceeds from the MLB Gatorade All-Star Workout Day to benefit a variety of local community projects and national charitable organizations. Since 1997, more than $48 million has been donated to non-profit organizations from MLB Gatorade All-Star Workout Day proceeds. The 2012 All-Star Summer boasted the most extensive charity activity in All-Star history, as MLB and the Royals partnered on more than 26 initiatives during All-Star Week.
Variety Kansas City: Variety the Children's Charity is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to promoting and protecting the health and well-being of children around the world. Through a network of 43 chapters in 13 countries, Variety reaches into communities across the globe to offer financial assistance and services to children and organizations that serve children with special needs. Variety of Greater Kansas City supports individual children in the area who are physically or mentally challenged and children's organizations that benefit special-needs children. To learn more about this organization, please visit www.varietykc.org
Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation: The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation uses baseball and softball themed programs to help build character and teach critical life lessons to underserved youth residing in America's most distressed communities. Founded in 2001 by members of the Ripken family in memory of their patriarch Cal, Sr., the Foundation works to create programs that positively impact at-risk youth through active community partnerships with America's most successful youth service organizations. In 2012, the Foundation impacted more than 154,000 youth in 47 states around the country.
Royals Charities: The Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities are committed to being active members of the Kansas City community and region. Created in 2001, Royals Charities supports children, education, youth baseball/softball and military efforts in and around the Kansas City area through financial donations and in-kind support such as memorabilia, tickets and publicity. Under the leadership of the Glass family, Royals Charities has donated more than $7 million in grants since its inception.