Not all kids are fortunate enough to be able to play the game of baseball. Children with disabilities are often sidelined when it comes to sports and end up missing out on a lot of fun and great experiences. But thanks to the Miracle League of Manasota, thousands of children with disabilities in Sarasota and Manatee counties are given the opportunity to play baseball, regardless of their ability.
Since coming to Sarasota for Spring Training, the Baltimore Orioles have learned of the nonprofit organization and are doing their part to help. Through the OriolesREACH initiative, Baltimore holds the Birdland Golf Classic, which benefits the Miracle League of Manasota, every year.
The classic features a silent auction and the chance to play a round with current and former Orioles players and coaches. Some of this year’s participants included manager Buck Showalter and pitcher Mychal Givens.
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) February 13, 2018
Since the creation of the event, the team has helped raise more than $250,000 for Miracle League at the classic. Much of the funds are spent on the synthetically surfaced baseball field to accommodate the special needs players, the pavilion, the concession stand and an electronic scoreboard so the kids can see their picture.
At the Orioles Spring Training game on March 4, Dan and Laura Teller, the president and league ambassador of the Manasota League, were presented with a check for the money raised at this year’s golf classic prior to the start of the game. The Tellers were the day’s Birdland Heroes, a program that honors members of the community who work to improve the lives of others in need.
Meet Dan & Laura Teller, our #BirdlandHeroes of the game, whose leadership & dedication to @miraclemanasota provides opportunities for children of all abilities to play baseball. #OrangeSpring ⚾️🌴 pic.twitter.com/zizesTCFWa
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) March 4, 2018
“It’s an honor to be recognized for this by the Orioles, and we are so grateful that they’re sponsors of our league. The money they have raised for us over the years has been extremely helpful in the development of the league,” said Dan Teller.
The Manasota League was established back in 2007 when Bob Mitchell, a life insurance agent specializing in families with special needs and a board member of the local Easter Seals, was shown a video on the Miracle League. From that moment, everything changed for Mitchell.
“I said, ‘I got to do that in Sarasota,’” Mitchell said. “‘It’s gotta be.’”
Since 1997 when the inaugural Miracle League formed outside of Atlanta, it has expanded to 235 leagues around the country, with more than 200,000 participants.
The hope is that the league continues to grow and help fulfill the dreams of many young children in the years to come.
“My dream situation is we have so many kids signed up that we have to build another field,” said Mitchell.
Opening Day for the 2018 season in Manasota begins today. The season will last for ten weeks until May 12.