Extra Special People, an organization in Watkinsville, Georgia that provides community support for children and young adults with developmental disabilities, has over the last year raised $1.7 million to build a fully-accessible baseball field at Harris Shoals Park.
As reported in The Red & Black, ESP was able to raise that much money thanks to a“really generous community,” ESP executive director Laura Whitaker said. The funds came from grants, fundraisers and individual donations.
The baseball field is called a Miracle League, which according to Miracle League’s Facebook page, the nonprofit “builds rubberized baseball fields and develops baseball leagues for children with special needs worldwide.”
There are over 240 Miracle Leagues across the country, including in Puerto Rico. There are also leagues in Canada and Mexico.
“It was kind of serendipitous. We heard about it and felt like it would be a perfect addition to our recreational programs,” Whitaker said. “So we asked our families if this was something that they would want and they said yes so we started heading in that direction.”
ESP chose Harris Shoals Park for the location of the Miracle League because the park is directly behind its facilities.
Gina Elliot, the ESP director of operations, is in charge of overseeing the construction of the Miracle League, and said the baseball field will allow ESP participants to play a sport they may normally not have access to and develop teamwork skills.
ESP had planned to raise close to $1.7 million but now it has the opportunity to raise another $130,000 through a matching grant by an unnamed Atlanta-based foundation. The grant will allow ESP to provide wish list items such as “the addition of a medical area, an adaptive equipment shed and additional shade,” according to a press release from ESP.
Currently in the pre-construction phase, an agreement with the city council needs to be finalized before construction can begin, and various testing procedures must be done before it breaks ground in 2020, Elliot said.
In the future, Whitaker hopes ESP can establish an endowment fund to provide a reliable source of funding for all the programs the nonprofit runs. The organization will keep fundraising for camp scholarships and manage programs to keep costs low for families who send their children to camp and afterschool programs.
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