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Miracle League Field to open Saturday

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It took two years, a lot of fundraising, and most importantly, a community that pulled together for a common cause.

Brainerd’s Miracle League Field, the handicapped-accessible baseball field in Bane Park, will open Saturday.

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“(The community) saw a need and they didn’t just stand by,” said Brainerd Parks and Recreation Director Tony Sailer. “People knew there are disabled people out there who want to have a place like this.”

The field, formally named the “Bonnie Cumberland Memorial Field,” caters to the mentally and physically handicapped.

It’s made of artificial turf to prevent injuries and allow those in wheelchairs to use the field. It’s painted to resemble a regular field.

Leagues start June 9, and about 20 area mentally and physically handicapped kids and adults have already signed up. Disabled veterans will also have their own league.

There was $206,000 raised for the effort, of which, $199,000 was used for the field construction (those numbers aren’t counting the labor donated by Widseth Smith Nolting and Hy-Tec Construction). The remaining funds will go toward the entrance archway, a sign with the park’s name, and a special plaque for Darlys Every, who first ignited the idea of the field for Brainerd.

Vibrant green, white and tan turf sparkle under the sun’s glare on the freshly laid field at Bane Park.

It’s something you really have to see in person, Sailer said.

“This is one of the most beautiful ball fields I’ve seen,” he said.

That beauty is both tangible and conceptual.

“It’s for people whose dreams (of playing baseball) were taken away from them,” Sailer said.

Now, those who once sat only on the sidelines can step up to bat.

“It’s huge for the kids who never got to play before; for the parents who get to watch them play,” Sailer said.

The next step is to raise money for an all-inclusive playground, which like the baseball field, will cater to mentally and physically handicapped.

About $100,000 is needed for that project, and the Parks and Recreation Department has already started efforts to raise the money. The park will be built next to the Miracle League Field.

Until then, it’s time to play ball.

“It’s something that’s really going to stand out in the community, that we took the effort, the time, the labor, to make it work,” Sailer said. “A community that comes together for a cause of unity and inclusion in one big step in the right direction.”

Sign up to be on one of the teams for the Miracle League Field by stopping in at the Parks and Recreation Department, 1619 NE Washington Street, Brainerd. All game supplies will be provided to players.

The department is also looking for buddies to assist players during the game.

If you go:

What: Miracle League Field grand opening

Where: Bane Park

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Events: Try swinging a bat and throwing a ball on the new field. Brainerd VFW will present. Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh will play the violin. Prairie Bay food truck will donate 10 percent of profits to the field that day.

JESSIE PERRINE may be reached at jessie.perrine@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews.

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