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West Michigan Miracle League players have 'plenty to give' during opening day of new field
West Michigan Miracle League players have 'plenty to give' during opening day of new field
Posted September 21, 2013

ROCKFORD, MI -- With a gleam in his eye and a ball in his hand, Tony Comden stepped out in front of a crowd of five hundred people and prepared to pitch to his son, Jed.

To the enjoyment of the crowd, Jed smacked a short line drive and dashed to first base -- what a way to begin his first game as part of the new West Michigan Miracle League.

Four teams of children with mental and physical disabilities played in two games Saturday to open up the new facility in Rockford dubbed the Nate Hurwitz Field, which was created with larger team boxes, entry ways and a smooth, rubbery playing surface to accommodate wheelchairs.

Hurwitz, who was a junior at Forest Hills Eastern High School, had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and had to use a wheelchair for much of his childhood. He died unexpectedly in September 2012, which sparked an outpouring of support to see the Miracle Field built.

"A picture is worth a thousand words but to see the smiles on their faces and them wearing their jerseys with their name on the back, their parents and grandma and grandpas here cheering them on, you can't describe or put a value on the impact we're having on kids today," Tony Comden said.

Comden started the WMML in 2011 after seeing his son's joy while playing in conventional tee ball games. Jed uses a walker after battling a brain tumor when he was 3-years old and Comden wanted to spread that joy to others who had their own challenges.

Miracle League Opening Day, By St Clair College Student Andrew Bradley
Miracle League Opening Day, By St Clair College Student Andrew Bradley
Posted September 15, 2013

BY ANDREW BRADLEY
Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013

The Amherstburg Miracle League, a piece of baseball heaven, held opening day ceremonies Saturday, Sept. 7 at 10 am. The nine-team, 140-player league for intellectually and physically disabled players runs Saturdays until Oct. 26. The ballpark, at the southeast corner of Meloche Road and Simcoe Street, has a turf playing surface so that players in wheelchairs can play. Players are paired with volunteers called ‘buddies’ who help with hitting, running the bases and fielding.

“When you have a child or an adult child with a disability, it can often be very isolating,” said league spokesperson Michele Vigneux. “But the sense of community that’s developed among the parents and fans, and even some of the buddies and volunteers …[has] created a strong awareness that people with disabilities have endless things to offer us.” 

The first Miracle League formed in 1997 in metro-Atlanta, Georgia after a disabled child asked to play on a local team. Today, according to miracleleague.com, there are over 250 leagues throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Australia and Canada. “Chuck Bondy, who’s our president, had seen some Miracle League games,” said Vigneux, whose son is a player, “and really thought this would be an awesome thing for Amherstburg …and through a lot of combined efforts we were able to get the funding and build the very first and only Miracle League in Canada.