This year, Senior Attorney Jesse Reiter of ABC Law Centers is donating to Michigan’s Miracle League, an organization devoted to helping children with physical, mental and behavioral disabilities get the experience of playing baseball in a safe and low-pressure environment!
Reiter & Walsh Seeks to Help Children with Disabilities Gain Access to the Sports They Love
Reiter & Walsh has supported the Miracle League for many years, hoping to ensure that the League’s program offerings will continue to expand and provide sports and recreation services to individuals with disabilities.
Firm owner and partner attorney Jesse Reiter highlights the critical need that Miracle League addresses:
“At the core of the Miracle League are three hugely important areas of focus, all of which are critical parts of growing up–physical activity, making friends, and engaging in fun activities from a young age. The kids who participate are so often excluded, and this is a fantastic opportunity to show them that they, too, are normal. It shows them that they can make friends and do what their peers do.”
He further stresses that these contributions are simply a natural extension of his firm’s continued dedication to the field of birth injury: “Our community outreach projects correspond to birth injury and childhood special needs advocacy, particularly within the Metro Detroit community…Everything we do works towards the pursuit of helping children with birth injuries live lives of rehabilitation, equal opportunity and fulfillment.”
About the Miracle League of Michigan
The Miracle League seeks to provide a safe and nurturing environment for children with disabilities of all types to play baseball as a team member in an organized league. The organization built a specially-designed field in Southfield, Michigan in 2004 that removes some of the obstacles that traditional fields can present to children in wheelchairs, on crutches, or with other mobility impairments. The turf is made of specially-engineered synthetic turf that prevents injuries and allows wheelchairs to move more easily through the field. This field allows the players to hit, run, and catch, providing them with an experience they otherwise would be unable to have.
Since the program’s inception, the organization has expanded its program offerings to serve 400 children and adults with special needs, as begun offering a bowling and dance program. Those interested in donating have the option of signing up for either a sponsorship or a general donation.
An Emphasis on Social Development and Fun
Miracle League provides each of its players with the opportunity to hit the ball and score a run during each game. They are assisted by volunteers without disabilities who act as “buddies” and help them hit the ball and ‘run’ bases, catch and throw. During each game, each child has a turn at bat and in the outfield, and has the chance to get to home plate. The activity allows children with disabilities to not only interact with their fellow team members, but also to play the game safely and with assistance if necessary, boosting their self-esteem and providing them with the opportunity to have fun in a sheltering environment.
Anyone can volunteer, be it a parent, friend, family member, college student, local business leader or member of the community.
How Miracle League Began
Miracle League got its start when a young boy in a wheelchair showed up to play in a youth baseball game in Georgia. One of the coaches took him on as a player, launching an effort to launch schedules of organized games for 35 players with special needs. The program initially was very well received, but players and parents found that traditional baseball diamonds posed hazards to players. Grass turf impeded the motion of wheelchairs walkers and braces, while baseball diamonds’ rough surfaces could make movement difficult or dangerous for some players. Organizers enlisted the help of designers to help develop a field with accessible dugouts, drinking fountains, facilities and safe play surfaces.
Baseball for All Skill Levels and Abilities
Miracle League provides two different divisions for different purposes. Their first division, the original non-competitive league, allows children ages four and up to play the game using adaptive plastic bats and safety balls. There is no scoring system, and each player can field/hit and get on base during each inning. There are no outs. Each player is partnered with a “buddy” who assists and protects them during games. The second division, the competitive league, is for players who can hit the ball, catch, pitch, throw and move around the field without assistance (this includes individuals with walkers or wheelchairs). Players must try out if they haven’t played before. Because the balls are thrown at high speed, players must be able to protect themselves. The competitive league uses Little League rules.