NORMAL -- A two-year-old baseball league for children with physical and mental disabilities would have its own home if plans by the Miracle League of Central Illinois and Heartland Community College come to fruition.
Heartland has given a letter of intent to league CEO and founder Bill Wright of Normal, saying the college plans to work with the league for a field on campus, Heartland President Allen Goben said.
The location on campus at 1500 W. Raab Road would be northwest of the Corn Crib, home of the Normal CornBelters, the professional baseball team, Goben and Wright said Monday.
Heartland will not pay for the field and cannot financially support the league, Goben said. But the college can provide the land, currently an open field used for Corn Crib overflow parking. Heartland did not have plans for the land, which would provide a nice environment for the children to play ball, he said.
"This is a win-win for everyone," Goben said.
"This is so important that I framed it (the letter of intent) and have it on the wall," Wright said.
Wright has an architect and general contractor who will develop plans for the field with assistance from a representative of Miracle League, which supports 240 leagues in the United States and beyond.
Miracle League of Central Illinois has been using the McLean County PONY Baseball park at Ireland Grove and Towanda Barnes roads. But Wright wants a specially designated field made of recycled rubber to make play easier for children who use wheelchairs and walkers. He also wants bleachers for family members, restroom facilities, a concession stand, a grassy area for picnics and lights.
The development could cost about $1.2 million and Miracle League is pursuing grants and is planning fundraisers next summer, Wright said. League teams played six games in May and June and another six games in August and September and Wright hopes that the new field is ready by August.
Fifty-six young people with disabilities played in the league this year and Wright hopes that 100 people will participate next year. Each player is paired with a "buddy" who helps out.