WHEELING - Official construction of the Miracle Field of the Ohio Valley has not started, but some earth work was conducted in 2010 for free by Tunnel Ridge Coal Mine workers, said Wheeling resident Lorraine McCardle.
McCardle started the fundraising effort to build the field in 2008. Her son Austin, 10, is a Miracle League team member.
Though about $200,000 still is needed for the project, those working to make the field a reality are not giving up. In January, two separate fundraising events were held at local restaurants. And the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center continues to take donations for the effort.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Wheeling resident Lorraine McCardle and her son Austin are looking forward to playing on a future Miracle League field at the J.B. Chambers ballfield complex in Elm Grove.
The field will have a synthetic surface to allow children who use walkers or wheelchairs or who have other disabilities to play baseball in a safe manner. It will be situated on land donated by the city of Wheeling at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Sports Complex in Wheeling. The plot is where the free earthwork to make the land flat was conducted last year.
Lori Untch, president and chief executive officer of Easter Seals in Wheeling, said her organization plans to rebid the construction project in March. A previous bid of $785,000 came in over budget. This time, in the request for new bids, quotes for various components of the project will be sought.
"We're hoping it fits within our budget. Our dream project was too expensive," Untch said, noting committee members hope the new component bids will make the project more affordable.
What's the current status of the Miracle Field of the Ohio Valley?
Wheeling resident Lorraine McCardle, who is heading up the effort to build the field, said a groundbreaking would take place this year. Some work already has been done by workers from Tunnel Ridge Coal Mine, she said.
Untch hopes construction of the field can begin soon after bids are received. She noted the most expensive parts of the Miracle Field will be the playing surface and infrastructure for handicapped accessible restrooms. There are some restrooms at the sports complex, but they are too far away from the Miracle Field site, she said.
McCardle noted that "every penny helps."
"We hope to finally have it built this June to play summer ball on it," McCardle said. "All the effort from the community is exactly what the Ohio Valley is about - people helping. All the work that goes into these (fundraisers), I can't explain how good it feels. I always knew the Ohio Valley would come through," she said.
The local league currently plays on Miracle League fields in other cities, such as Morgantown, and sometimes on regular ball fields. Local groups that are playing a major role in the project include the Ogden Newspapers; Pirates Charities, which is the charitable arm of the Pittsburgh Pirates; the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley; Knights of Columbus; WKKX; and others.
"They love to play in the Ohio Valley. ... When people in the valley see it, they will be amazed," McCardle said of a Miracle League game. "It's something they will never forget - the smiles on their faces.
"It's the most moving thing. Once they see it, they'll want to come back. The Ohio Valley is a great place. When people can afford it, they make a donation."