Field of Dreams

SOME MIRACLES take longer than others. One played out Saturday in Wheeling, five years from the time of its inception. This one means a new lease on life for countless individuals in the tri-state area.

A new ball field was officially christened at J.B. Chambers Youth Sports Complex in the Elm Grove section of the Friendly City, marking the culmination of a five-year fundraising effort.

Opening day attracted dozens of Miracle League players and their families, along with a host of supporters, donors and celebrities. Two games were contested Saturday, both ending in tie scores, as no one went away losers this day.

Far from it.

Building this field of dreams was a massive undertaking, fueled by love, passion and dogged determination, not to mention generosity. The original price tag for the project was estimated at $500,000. It ended up costing twice that amount.

But you cannot put a price tag on the smiles, joy and unbridled excitement experienced by the youths and adults who were able to take to the field Saturday. Wheelchairs and walkers were no longer barriers to playing ball.

The Miracle League field was the brainchild Lorraine McCardle. It quickly grew into a community crusade.

Money was raised in many different fashions: spaghetti dinners, road races and golf outings. The fund-raising was also supported by charitable entities such as the Pittsburgh Pirates and the team’s charitable arm, Pirates Charities; the Community Foundation of the Ohio Valley; the J.B. Chambers Memorial Foundation as well as others.

A myriad of organizations and individuals went to bat for the field, which features a cushioned, synthetic surface.

They delivered in grand-slam fashion for those who were formerly relegated to the role of spectators.

The Miracle League is every bit that, both for how it became a reality as well as for what it means to its participants.