May 14, 2012 | last updated June 1, 2012 2:29 pm
NONPROFIT NOTEBOOK

Miracle League field ready for first pitch

Come Father's Day, a year-long dream will come true for organizers of West Hartford's Miracle League of Connecticut Inc. June 17 is the day the nonprofit's organizers have chosen to debut their Field of Dreams — a $700,000 handicapped accessible baseball field and playground.

"This project has truly been a labor of love for the many volunteers and donors who have committed their support to the Miracle League of CT," said Scott Franklin, one of the founding members of the group.

The field is located at the University of Connecticut Little League baseball complex at the corner of Trout Brook Drive and Asylum Avenue. The site is owned by the University of Connecticut and leased to the town of West Hartford.

Most Miracle League fields throughout the country are stand-alone fields, which are not incorporated into a little league complex. The Connecticut chapter says that the location of this Miracle League field and playground will make it easier for children with special needs involved in the program to engage with the other baseball players at the sports complex.

One of the important aspects of the Miracle League is pair children with and without special needs. Those children without special needs serve as "buddies" each game and throughout the season. It provides the buddies with a deeper understanding of the children in the Miracle League, authorities say.

"They can serve as the eyes for a child who is sight impaired, the ears for a child who is hearing impaired, and the legs for a child in a wheelchair, and can also serve as protection against hard hit baseballs," said Franklin.

The field is a fully synthetic rubberized surface field; all of the bases, lines, etc. are painted onto the surface. Since there are no raised edges, it makes it much easier for children in wheelchairs and walkers to navigate the baselines and play on the field.

This will be the first Miracle League field in all of New England. Beyond the field, the Miracle League — co-directed by Franklin, Mike Michaud and Ronit Shoham — is also working to raise funds to construct a handicapped restroom facility and concession stand.

There are currently approximately 200 Miracle League Chapters across the country, of which about 160 have rubberized baseball fields. The estimated 11,500 children with special needs in the Greater Hartford area who receive special education in their school systems will have access to the Miracle League field.

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Fisher House drive begins

The Rotary Club of West Haven is leading efforts to raise $3 million toward development of the state's first Fisher House, a home-away-from-home for hospitalized veterans' families.

The Fisher House is to be located at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System's West Haven campus and is expected to open in August, 2013. The 16,000-square-foot Fisher House — a $6 million project in total — will add to 54 other residential facilities located nationwide and in Germany. The Fisher House Foundation Inc. will provide a matching grant.

Enthone Inc, AT&T, and Metro Taxi are the first West Haven-based companies to sponsor the fundraising efforts. Qualidigm, the health care consulting and research company in Rocky Hill; The Russell Agency LLC in Fairfield County and Nobile Communications International LLC in Branford are also among early contributors.

In 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama identified The Fisher Foundation Inc. as his designated charity. President Obama and the first lady have also assigned the profits of the children's books they have written to the foundation.

On a Fisher House is built, it is given to the U.S. Government as a gift. Military service secretaries and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs are responsible for their operation and upkeep.

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In brief

The Travelers Companies Inc. is sponsoring the Foursomes for Fatherhood Golf Classic June 11. A $20,000 grant to The Village for Families & Children Inc. supports the event at Shuttle Meadow Country Club, in Kensington. The Golf Classic is part of a series of events taking place during the Village's Fatherhood Week 2012 … Murtha Cullina LLP recently donated 55 flat panel computers monitors to Metro Hartford Information Services, which supports the technological needs of the Hartford Public Schools as well as the City of Hartford. … UIL Holdings Corp. has committed $2,500 to Our Piece of the Pie in Hartford to support the Pathways to Success program, which helps urban youthÂ… Red Thread, formerly bkm Total Office, along with Steelcase, has teamed up for the 16th year as the title sponsor of the 2012 Bike MS, for the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter. The Bike MS: Red Thread+Steelcase Ride, presented by Louis Dreyfus Commodities, will be held on Sunday, June 3, in Windsor and Westport.

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