Baseball field designed for special needs kids coming to ETX -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Baseball field designed for special needs kids coming to ETX

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A joint partnership between the city of Longview and the Miracle League of East Texas will soon bring a brand new baseball field to disabled kids who would not otherwise be able to play.

Organizers began fundraising for the project - the first of its kind in East Texas -about a year ago, and said they hope to break ground by next summer.

It is something a lot of kids and parents take for granted, but for kids with disabilities, a normal game of baseball comes with a lot of extra challenges.

"When they go to the base, they can't get up on the base sometimes. It trips them," said Miracle League of East Texas President Bob Graham. "The dirt snags in their wheels. It's not friendly enough. Some have no problem. Others have a great deal of difficulty."

That is where the group comes in. They hope to raise enough money—nearly $700,000—to break ground on a brand new field within a year. The field will be designed especially for kids with special needs.

"This is going to have a special surface on it," Graham said. "The whole field, bases are painted on it. It's a beautiful field. Kids can go through on walkers, go through on crutches, on wheelchairs, it doesn't matter because the surface is even and it doesn't trip anybody up."

The new field will be located right next to nearly a dozen other baseball and softball fields already in use at Longview's Lear Park.

"In this few mile region right around Longview, there's 18,000 kids with some kind of disability," Graham said. "It ranges from autism to Downs Syndrome, little slight disabilities, to some severe, but they all have the right to learn how to play baseball with everybody else."

The goal is helping the kids not just physically, but mentally as well.

"It's the self confidence they build," Graham said. "The 'I can do anything my brothers and sisters can do.' The overall drive for me is to equalize everybody. Let the kids have fun. It's a star for Longview to be able to cater to everybody."

It is the first of its kind in East Texas and the group hopes that if it is successful, they will be able to build even more in the future.

So far, the group has raised about 25% of the money to date needed to complete the project. If you are interested in pitching in to help, the group has a donation site set up here.

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