In a fairly short amount of time, people from all walks of life and businesses large and small came forward to donate, with nearly $2 million raised so far for the project. As City Manager Chris McCartt said during a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, it’s a project that defines who Kingsport is as a city.
“We saw a need, we addressed it and went after it,” McCartt said.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
A Miracle Field is a baseball field built to accommodate special needs children. It’s about a third of the size of a regular field and instead of grass or traditional astroturf, the field has a flat, rubberized surface. The mound and all of the bases are flush, so wheelchairs and amputees can run on the surface without having to worry about lips and grass.
Kingsport’s field is being built at Brickyard Park (located off Industry Drive) behind the four fields that already exist at the facility. The Miracle Field project includes building a field, along with a pavilion and an all-accessible playground.
A public fundraising campaign is currently underway, with more than $1.8 million raised toward a $2.56 million goal.
RIGHT ACROSS THE PLATE
Now that construction is in full swing, the Kingsport Miracle Field is slated to open in spring 2020. Youth and young adults with special needs, who love the game of baseball, will soon have their very own place to play America’s pastime.
“It’s about self-esteem, making new friends and being treated like any other athlete,” said Visit Kingsport Executive Director Jud Teague, a former high school baseball coach who has spearheaded the project from the beginning.
Teague’s desire to bring a Miracle League Field to the region was also motivated by his son Nicholas, who has Down syndrome.
“Nic is just like any other kid in that he loves his dog, music and thinks there’s nothing better than baseball,” Teague said. “There aren’t any Miracle League Fields around here where Nic can get out there and really play so he’s my motivation for doing this. I just want him, and other kids, to have a place where they can have fun and enjoy the game.”
SWING FOR THE FENCES
Having a facility in Kingsport will be an enormous benefit for the entire region, as it will be the first Miracle League complex in Northeast Tennessee, Teague said. The closest Miracle League complex in Tennessee is in Chattanooga, with Roanoke being the closest in Virginia.
Currently, there are more than 300 Miracle League organizations, including Puerto Rico, Canada, and Australia, serving in excess of 200,000 children and young adults with disabilities.
“Kingsport is a caring and compassionate community and we knew that before this idea was even conceived,” said Mayor Pat Shull. “If someone wants affirmation of that, here’s another example of the big heart that’s present in our community and shows again that Kingsport is great place to live, work and play.”
For more information, visit www.miracleleague.com.