A big part of my career involves helping families protect the financial futures of their children with special needs. My team and I work closely with parents to establish trusts, create Medicare set-asides, and take other approaches to plan out the most effective use of their kids’ settlements and other income. Through the relationships I have developed with these families, I have seen firsthand the distance they will go to ensure their special needs child’s lifelong safety and happiness. Like every parent, they want their kids to live their best life possible.
Unfortunately, for parents who have children with special needs, accessibility is often a big obstacle when looking for activities. But one organization has been giving kids who face challenges a way to enjoy baseball in an environment that’s just right for them.
The Miracle League is a national organization that removes the barriers that keep children and adults with mental and physical disabilities off conventional baseball fields and “… lets them experience the joy of America’s favorite pastime.” While conventional baseball leagues play on natural grass fields, Miracle League teams play on a rubberized turf field customized to safely accommodate wheelchairs and other devices.
In addition to the physical customization of Miracle League fields, the organization structures its games to promote building relationships, self-esteem, and welcoming haven for everyone involved. To help the athletes play, the Miracle League uses a “buddy” system by pairing each player with an able-bodied peer. There are also special rules for Miracle League games, which are as follows:
- Every player bats once each inning
- All players are safe on the bases
- Every player scores a run before the inning is over (last one up gets a home run)
- Community children and volunteers serve as ‘buddies’ to assist the players
- Each team and each player wins every game
Since the first Miracle League complex was completed in 2000, the organization has since grown to include 300 Miracle League groups across the country and in Puerto Rico, Canada, and Australia. More than 200,000 children and young adults with special needs participate.
If you or someone you know is caring for a child with special needs, consider visiting the Miracle League’s website to find out if there is a league near you. It could be a great opportunity to not only play baseball in a safe and accessible atmosphere, but to also connect with a community that encourages people with special needs to live their best lives.
About John Bair
John Bair is an experienced settlement planner and financial consultant. He helps families develop strategies to provide lifelong financial support for children with disabilities, catastrophic injuries, special education needs, and congenital abnormalities. Read more about John’s work and his firm, Milestone Consulting, at http://milestoneseventh.com/.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).