Inspired by a story about the Miracle League, a non-profit organization in Rockdale, GA, that built a field of dreams for special needs children, Cary developer Robin Rose and WithersRavenel co-founder Tony Withers founded the Miracle League of the Triangle and assembled a team of professionals, businesses, and volunteers to plan, design, and build a very special baseball field in the Triangle.
Working with the Town of Cary and the Wake County Public School System, the WithersRavenel-led team identified a little-used cinder track and sparse grassy play field adjacent to Henry Adams Elementary School as the site of the facility. Central to the design of the field was the use of Mondo Sportflex Super X, a state-of-the surface material used in the last eight Para-Olympic games. It is made from natural rubber and contains no hazardous materials such as solvents or latex. When laid correctly, it is exceptionally level, slip resistant, and easy to maneuver on while still cushioning against injuries, all of which are critical for players rounding the bases in wheelchairs or on crutches. The low-maintenance and durable surface is also non-porous and anti-microbial.
Additional design elements included a bay of 13 van-accessible handicapped parking spaces parallel to the field, an eighth-mile low-maintenance asphalt walking track to replace the old cinder track, an improved grassy play field, and field lighting.
On September 16, 2006, the Miracle League of the Triangle opened its first season with more than 100 players and 200 volunteers, far exceeding its modest expectations. The league played its first night game “under the lights” in November 2006. Not only does the baseball field allow children with disabilities to enjoy America’s national pastime, but it also helps remove some of the barriers between mainstream and special needs children through a buddy system, which pairs each player with an able-bodied buddy to foster camaraderie and team play.
In 2014, the Fred Smith Company Field was constructed at 3011 Queensland Rd., Raleigh, NC 27614. Between the 2 locations, the Miracle League of the Triangle has 30 teams serving nearly 400 players with special needs each season. In the spring of 2015 the Miracle League expanded their program by offering an Adult League age-group and a competitive camp. Approximately 4000 volunteer opportunities exist each year.
There are approximately 250 Miracle League organizations across the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Australia, serving more than 200,000 children and adults with disabilities worldwide.