Acton residents Andy and Lauren Richardt are champions for the Miracle League of Massachusetts, a non-profit organization designed to give children with physical and emotional handicaps the chance to participate in a baseball league. League games are currently played at the Blanchard Elementary School in Boxborough, but because of safety concerns and scheduling constraints, the Richardts have their eyes set on some open space at NARA Park.
The project, funded by charitable donations, would not cost Acton a dime. The Miracle League of Massachusetts, a branch of the national Miracle League organization, has already raised $210,000 and has to raise $425,000 to fund the project. In January, the Acton Police Association donated $1,000 to the project. Those interested in finding out more about donating may click here.
If the field is built in Acton it will be the first Miracle League field in the New England area.
Problems with the Blanchard field location:
- Time constraints: The spring/fall league has roughly 105 players on six teams with only a four-hour time frame to play Saturday games.
- The league can only fit three games in that time frame, which inhibits more children from joining the league.
Safety concerns with the Blanchard field location:
- The dirt field creates a challenge for children with wheelchairs and other mobile disabilities:
“One of the benefits of the league is that it builds confidence in the children but when they fall or when they struggle to get from the grass to the dirt it defeats the purpose of the league,” said Andy Richardt.
- The field is surrounded by marsh and is across the street from a parking lot:
“There is no fence enclosing the field so children on the autism spectrum who may not have a sense of danger can dash out into traffic or can dash into the marsh,” said Andy Richardt.
NARA Park location:
- The field would be a flat rubberized surface so children with mobility issues would be able to move around easier.
- The proposed location would be adjacent to the current softball field at NARA Park.
“It feels like we are by ourselves (at Blanchard),” said Andy Richardt. He went on to explain that building a field next to the softball, soccer and lacrosse fields at NARA Park would make the Miracle League children and their families feel more a part of a community.
- The field could be used for town recreation when the Miracle League is not using it, which is every day but Saturday during the spring and fall.
- The Richardts believe they will be able to use the field for eight hours on Saturdays rather than four hours at the Blanchard field and will be able to divide the league into smaller teams.
Andy and Lauren Richardt presented the proposed project to the Acton Board of Selectmen Monday night, and members noted they favor the idea. The Richardt’s will bring the proposal to Town Meeting in April for final approval.
The Richardts have an eight-year-old son named Henry who has special needs, and in 2007 the family teamed up with another family to champion for a Miracle League field in Boston, which did not materialize.
"My son at the time was four, and my husband and I were like, 'this sounds like a great program, we should see if there is one in the area and if there is not we should start one,'" said Lauren Richardt. "We saw a video of the Miracle League kids playing in Pennsylvania and thought it would be great to have that here."