VANCOUVER -- Summer seems synonymous with baseball, and hard-working volunteers in Vancouver are making sure more than a hundred kids and adults keep playing.
“A lot of people who play are like me and have a disability,” said 17-year-old Alex Trimble. "It feels like a world where you belong.”
Trimble is on a team in the Miracle League of Vancouver. The league includes people with more than 20 types of physical and mental challenges from ADHD to Down syndrome.
“No player is turned away, no matter what their challenge,” said league director Craig Mills.
Players range in age from 4 to 48.
T. J. Koutselas is one of the youngest players.
“I hit a ball really far, like next to the school. I’m so good,” the 5-year-old said.
The League runs on about $14,000 a year with players paying a $35 fee for eight weeks of games.
“It gives them the opportunity to interact with new people and we see so much growth. They don’t get bullied as much at school because they’re more outgoing,” Mills explained.
The league has its own field of dreams in Pacific Park.
Organizers were working with the City of Vancouver to get approval for building an $800,000 specialized rubber field.
“Right now, we play on grass at an elementary school and it’s really tough on the players in wheelchairs when it gets muddy,” Mills said.
The hope is that with enough fundraising, the new playing surface can be installed at Pacific Park by the fall of 2014.
On July 15, the league is raising money with a golf tournament.
“We want to provide the opportunity to play ball, because it makes these players feel alive and no different from anyone else,” said league president Ralph Heiser.