First Annual Dinner on the Diamond Fundraiser April 2
By Caryn Stumpfl
The Pineapple Managing Editor
It’s that time of year again for America’s annual rite of spring: baseball! As the season begins across the country for Little Leaguers and MLB players alike, it’s great to know that even kids with different abilities can hear the umpire’s call of “PLAY BALL,” and participate on the baseball diamond, thanks to organizations like the Miracle League of Palm Beach County.
The Miracle League, located at 1905 Southwest 4th Ave. in Delray Beach at Miller Park, is dedicated to providing the opportunity for all children to play baseball regardless of their ability. They help kids from age 5-18 with mental and physical challenges achieve the same “field of dreams” as their healthy peers – to play ball.
The Miracle League will be hosting its first annual Dinner on the Diamond on April 2 from 6-10 p.m. on the Miracle League Field at Miller Park in Delray Beach. They are seeking sponsorship/underwriting and auction items for this special event to raise funds to purchase and install lights for the Delray Beach field, to create an evening league for adults with special needs as well as to continue to offer a fee-free league for all of their participants.
The event will include dinner held the specialized field where the league plays, auctions and live musical entertainment. Tickets are $80 per person; seating is limited. Call 561-414-4441 to RSVP by March 19.
“Every child deserves to play ball,” said Miracle League Executive Director Julia Kadel. She and her husband have been volunteering for the league for 10 years. Until recently, Kadel was working full time and volunteering, but now she is dedicating herself full time to working for and developing the Miracle League. “The league is fee-free – families of players don’t pay a cent,” said Kadel. The league is entirely donations-based, relying on volunteers and sponsorships. The Miracle League is a non-profit (501)c(3) organization.
If you haven’t seen the Miracle League Field yet, you’ll notice some distinct differences from an ordinary baseball diamond. The field features cushioned synthetic turf (recycled rubber) to help prevent injuries, with wheelchair accessible dugouts and a completely flat surface to eliminate any barriers to the wheelchair bound or visually impaired players. The Miracle League is non-competitive and the rules are a bit different from regular baseball but very encouraging to the players. Here’s how it works: Volunteer “buddies” from the community help assist the players or encourage them during the game. Buddies must be at least 13 years old.
The non-competitive league has simple rules:
• Every player bats once each inning;
• All base runners are safe;
• Every player scores a run before the inning is over (last one up gets a home run);
• Each team and player wins every game;
• Community children and volunteers serve as “buddies” to assist the players.
Currently, there are approximately 100 players and a cheerleading squad comprised of kids and young adults from all over Palm Beach County. Over the past 10 years, the league has grown to six teams, with hundreds of supportive parents, fans and volunteers.
According to Kadel, some of the players have been with the Miracle League for 10 years and are now in their early 20s. They would love to start a young adult league but the field will need lights to accommodate night games and serve all the players. “Normally, we accept everyone not playing in another league but there are no other leagues available for young adults in the area,” said Kadel. “I don’t want to turn away anyone just because they’ve aged out of our league. One of our players has been with us since he was 14 and is now in his early 20s. I’m not going to tell his parents he can’t play,” she said. “I won’t let that happen.”
At the April 2 fundraiser, dinner will be held on the actual field where the league plays. “By holding dinner right here on the field, (people) will see what we’re doing and will get a better feel for what it’s all about,” said Kadel. The fun-filled evening will include dinner and dessert from gourmet food trucks, craft beer and wine, musical entertainment by the Jon Greco Band and silent and live auctions.
The Miracle League baseball season starts the following week on April 9, and they could use volunteer buddies from the community to assist them this season. For more information, go to www.miracleleaguepalmbeachcounty.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (561) 414-4441.