Washington Nationals Miracle Field opens in Montgomery County
With the help of the Washington Nationals, kids with special needs throughout the Washington Metropolitan area will now have a place to play baseball! On Monday, August 1, the ballclub celebrated the opening of the Washington Nationals Miracle Field in Montgomery County with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Nationals pitchers Sean Burnett and Jordan Zimmermann, manager Davey Johnson, third base coach Bo Porter and Principal Owners Mark D. Lerner and Judy L. Lerner were all in attendance to help open the field.
The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and the Annette M. and Theodore N. Lerner Family Foundation partnered with various civic and community organizations from Montgomery County to construct the Miracle Field, which was built to provide children with disabilities a place to play baseball safely. Located in South Germantown Recreation Park, the field is made up of a cushioned synthetic turf that allows children using wheelchairs and walkers to “run” the bases without fear of injury.
Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, more than 30 children were given their first opportunity to play on the field, a sight Nationals manager Davey Johnson was particularly thrilled to see.
“I’ve raised a few children who had special needs,” Johnson explained. “This warms my heart seeing these kids running around, having this facility to play on. I’m actually more proud to be a part of this than the World Championship teams I’ve been with.”
The Washington Nationals Miracle Field is the first of its kind in the D.C. region and in the state of Maryland, and it will serve as the new home for the Miracle League of Montgomery County. Currently, there are 240 Miracle League organizations across the country that provide opportunities for more than 200,000 children and young adults with disabilities.
“We’re serving a great need: to break down a lot of the barriers that are out there that separate kids who don’t have special needs with those who do,” Montgomery County councilmember Craig Rice said. “It’s a great opportunity for kids with special needs and developmental disabilities to get outside.”
Brian, a 17-year old who suffered a brain injury as a child and is now in a wheelchair, was one of the many Miracle League athletes in attendance at Monday’s event. His mother Debbie extolled the virtues of the new Miracle Field.
“I think it’s very important,” she said. “There are a lot of recreational activities for children who do not have severe disabilities, but it’s very limited for children who can’t walk. This is amazing. It’s going to help a lot of the children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate in team sports.”
Children with disabilities often struggle to participate in recreational activities because of physical barriers, but the new field will help minimize these obstacles and make playing baseball a possibility.
“This means so much to these kids because they get to be a part of something that they hadn’t been a part of before,” Councilmember Rice added. “They get to be outside, and play and enjoy a team sport. We know that builds character; that’s why we encourage sports as a part of our daily lives as kids grow. I think we need to continue to do that, especially for our children with special needs.”
The highlight of the day for all involved was seeing the pure joy that the new field provided to all of the children in attendance.
“It just touches your heart,” Johnson said. “You learn so much from these children. It’s just special; I can hardly put it in words. It’s just wonderful.”