West Metro Miracle League offers baseball for special needs youth

West Metro Miracle League is calling all super special children and youth ages three to 19 with cognitive or physical challenges to register today through March 30 for its 2014 baseball season.
With games every Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday during May and June at Bennett Family Park in Minnetonka, players are paired with a volunteer buddy for a fun-filled season of baseball on the official Subway Restaurants – Harmon Killebrew Field, featuring a special rubberized surface enabling children to safely navigate the bases.
“In a league where everyone hits, everyone gets on base and everyone crosses home plate, there is a great deal of fun to be had by all the players and volunteers involved,” said Tim Hawley, West Metro League Athletics president, a resident of Deephaven and vice president of marketing and communications at International Dairy Queen Corporation, a longtime team sponsor. “As a parent of a special needs child, there is no greater satisfaction than witnessing the joy these children experience as they play baseball side-by-side with their buddies.”
In an effort to expand the league’s offerings to an even more diverse range of children and youth with special needs, WMML will introduce a new “Player’s League” this season for those requiring only minimal help from buddies.
Highlights of the 2014 season include a pre-season clinic for all registered players on Sunday, March 30 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Tonka Dome, on the south side of the Minnetonka High School campus, 18301 Highway 7; and DQ Day this summer with free Dilly Bars for participants.
Families travel from as far as 25 miles away to participate in Miracle League games, and hail from places including Hutchinson, Shakopee, Edina and Maple Plain, among others. From humble beginnings on a dirt field with just four teams of 33 players, and 250 buddies and volunteers in 2008, WMML last year fielded 150 players on 12 teams, with more than 1,000 buddies and volunteers.
Hawley has plans to expand the league this year and in the future, with the hope of one day building a home where kids with special needs can live when they become independent adults.
Hawley, who has one child who plays in the league and another two children who volunteer as a buddy, looks forward to the WMML baseball season each year. “It’s such a positive environment for everyone involved.  Every child, no matter the physical or cognitive challenge, can come out and have a great time.  It’s all about the smiles on everyone’s faces,” he said.
The cost to register a player is $50 per child; families with more than one child receive a discount of $5 per child when registered at the same time. Fees increase to $75 per player after March 15; registration closes on March 30. To sign up go to www.westmetromiracleleague.org and click the registration tab. For more information, call Tonya Andruskiewicz, WMML communications director, at (612) 396-1256.

About West Metro Miracle League
The West Metro Miracle League is a charitable organization providing children in the west metro area, ages three to 19 with cognitive or physical challenges, an opportunity to play baseball. WMML is located and fully integrated in the Bennett Family Ballpark in Minnetonka, Minn., home of seven baseball diamonds accommodating tee ball though Little League and Babe Ruth.