Saturday, April 19, 2014

Features
Miracle League
by Jennifer Tomazic


MILWAUKEE -- All the elements of a baseball game at the John C. Cudahy YMCA, but there is a warmth and inspiration that isn't found just anywhere.

The Miracle League is played at the Y. It's for kids, age 4-19, who have cognitive or physical disabilities to put that all aside and have fun on a baseball team.

"It is the best experience of my life," said Stephen Kerney who plays on the Red Sox.

He and his buddy, a volunteer that is assigned to each player, get a hit on his first time up to bat. Stephen has a rare neurotransmitter disorder, but his disability doesn't define him on the field.

"I know they're safe, they're having fun, and I am too," said Stephen's mother, Anne.

Like other Miracle League parents, she's seen her son gain confidence and joy from being on the baseball team. It's a place where everyone feels comfortable and is welcome.

"Its been great," said Anne, "Stephen can do it by himself and its really all the small successes for all the kids that make a big difference."

The games are played twice a week on a field that is made out of a special material that makes it easy for all kids to enjoy the sport. This is the league's second season at the John C. Cudahy YMCA.

"The goal of the program is for us to get the kids out, having fun," said organizer Katie Woelfel. "We believe that all kids should have the opportunity to play baseball and our field really promotes it."

The dugouts are also spacious enough for families to share lots of love after a successful game.

"It is fun," said Stephen. "I can do it myself and with my friends."

"To realize they can have an opportunity to do something everyone else can do and Milwaukee can make that happen is really important," said Anne. "it shows that Milwaukee does care."

For more information on the Miracle League, log onto http://www.miracleleaguemilwaukee.org/