Valdosta Daily Times

March 15, 2013

The Miracle League looking for funding in Valdosta

VLPRA will offer site for field suited for disabled

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — A complex to help children and adults with disabilities could be coming to Valdosta, if a group of people have their way.

With no major facilities currently located in the Valdosta-Lowndes County area that can host athletic events for people with disabilities, a group of Valdosta citizens have partnered with The Miracle League to create a complex that will provide the needed amenities in assisting the area’s disabled.

If the group of citizens can raise the necessary $900,000 to build such a field and complex, the VLPRA will give them the necessary land, in an undetermined authority park, to build and develop on.

The field will feature an all rubber playing surface and will be accessible to those with even some of the worst handicap disabilities. The complex will also feature a play ground just outside the center field fence, which will also be accessible to handicapped persons.

The funding for the project is being spearheaded by former Valdosta State football player Andy Gibbs, who became a member of The Miracle League in 2006. Until four months ago, Gibbs made very little progress. That is when he was introduced to VLPRA Director George Page, who supported the movement of building such a complex in Valdosta.

“The funds will not be a problem,” Gibbs said. “We’ve got men and women on the board. In the four months since George has contacted me, we have established a board. It is amazing where it has gone to, compared to where it used to be at.”

On his own, Gibbs pays the annual $500 fee to be a member of The Miracle League, which provides fundraising efforts and support in developing the complex.

“This is one of the only programs that I have seen that can bring a community together like this,” said Stephanie Davis, The Miracle League’s National Program Director, who said a field of this caliber can be utilized on a daily, year-around, basis.

The Miracle League, which is now featured in the Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, started in 2000 in Conyers and is now an international company that provides communities assistance with developing fields and play grounds for the handicapped. The organization now reaches to over 48 states and several international countries, including Puerto Rico and Mexico.

  For those looking to get involved with the Valdosta Miracle League, persons may e-mail Andy Gibbs at Valdostamiracles@yahoo.com.

In other news from Thursday’s meeting, JC Cunningham said the VLPRA needs to look into how much money it can get through the upcoming SPLOST to repair the roof of various authority facilities, including at the Forrest Street gymnasium.

VLPRA Director George Page also laid out the guidelines for sanctioning mobile and stationary venders at VLPRA events.

Each stationary vender will be charged $50 per day to sell items on days of events hosted by the VLPRA. Mobile vendors will be charged $25 per day.

For events hosted by other authorities at VLPRA, the authority will provide of list of their vendors, although those renting are not required to use Valdosta and Lowndes County based vendors.

It was also announced that members of the VLPRA Therapeutic Division will attend the Atlanta Hawks’ game in Phillips Arena next Wednesday. At the event, the VLPRA and the Hawks will make a pledge to stop the usage of the “R” word, a word that is often used in a degrading meaning when speaking of people with disabilities.

Those from the VLPRA that will make the trip to Atlanta will also be given an opportunity to high-five players coming out of the locker room and catch rebounds during a halftime event.