JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - ?
After years of construction and fundraising, the Miracle League baseball field and park is officially open. There were many smiles and even tears of joy at the grand opening for the $2.8 million dollar facility for special needs children.
Parents were able to sit in the stands and watch as their child played a sport they may have only dreamed about. Elizabeth Band's 12 year old son, Clay, has a rare disorder that impairs him mentally and physically, but today was a good day.
"I'd say it is one of the best days of our lives. It really is. It's a dream come true," Band said.
Clay took to the field with other special needs children to, finally, play ball. Jacqueline Pickle's one year old daughter, Janly, joined him as they both experienced a dream come true.
Pickle described her daughters face when she gets to play ball. "Her eyes light up. It's amazing. This miracle league has been a fantastic opportunity for everyone."
Clay has been talking about it for months. "He's been saying baseball every day. He couldn't wait for all of his friends to see him play," Band said.
The grand opening included the miracle league ambassadors and Red Wolves baseball team walking out of the corn field onto their very own field of dreams. Many spoke about how this project all got started including Jonesboro Mayor, Harold Perrin. A balloon release signified the opening of the field, and music was provided by the Overcomers choir.
The new rubberized field is safe for wheelchairs and allows for parents to have peace of mind. Pickle said, "It's a great feeling to know that when your child is out there playing that they are safe, and they can have fun at the same time."
The field also provides these one of kind children with limitless opportunities. Band explained, "It's just a really great opportunity for them to be around other children who are like them, and it forces their children to socialize and get those socialization skills they need."
For kids like Clay, he is no longer the sibling having to sit in the stands. "To see it turn around and her yell and scream for him is really neat. Now she can be his biggest fan," Band said.
Band said this field has changed her family's life and she feels, "It is pure, unadulterated joy, without a doubt."
The Miracle League is still putting some finishing touches on the park including some special areas for autistic children. The field will begin its first season of baseball leagues in April.