Fit for a Miracle

Saturday mornings are typically a time for Frisco families to sleep in and enjoy not having to wake up to a blaring alarm clock. However, for the many children and parents participating in the Miracle League of Frisco, Saturday morning means it is game day!

The Miracle League is a 501(c)(3) charity organization throughout the country that provides the unmatched opportunity for children ages 5-19 with physical and intellectual challenges to compete in sports they love. The league offers basketball, baseball, soccer, football, track, bowling and newly-added to the list of sports is golf.

The idea of the Miracle League was first presented to the Frisco City Council back in 2005. With the support of the Council and after funds had been appropriated by the Frisco Community Development Corporation, Miracle League board members took action. Within 90 days, the Miracle League of Frisco was born. Board members created a local baseball stadium designed for children with special needs, and they have not stopped to this day. “Our children want to compete; they want to play; they want to be part of a team. They want to wake up on Saturday morning, put a uniform on and feel good about being part of something,” says Cacy Saffery, a board member and former vice chairman of the league.

Frisco’s inaugural Miracle League field, named the “E. Michael Simpson Miracle League Field,” is located at Frisco’s Harold Bacchus Community Park. Designed with synthetic cushioned turf to accommodate wheelchairs and other walking assistance instruments, the field is designed to provide a safe environment for children of the league to fully enjoy sports they love.

Frisco’s welcoming attitude and ambition to step outside the box is one of the main reasons vice president of volunteers, June Taylor, says the Miracle League is here to stay. “We had so many caring people who wanted to get involved in the league. And it was not just parents,” she says. “I think we have had a great impact on the school district, as well as with children who were involved in the Best Buddies organization.”

Ms. Taylor says the Miracle League has changed the outlook going forward, for not only the city of Frisco, but also for the players who go out there and compete. “We have helped a lot of our players advance their self-esteem, and I think it opens doors for some of them that they did not even think about.”

The Miracle League is for children all over North Texas, so its boundaries of participation are not just limited to Frisco. Ms. Taylor says Frisco is the only city that offers what is soon to be seven sports for athletes. Every sport in the league is run twice a year, with the exception of track, which is designed to get athletes in shape to run the Turkey Trot, Miracle Mile or 5K on Thanksgiving morning.

Allison Burum is the director of marketing for the Frisco Miracle League. She mentions that, for parents on the fence about getting their child involved, the league is all about acceptance and good fun. “Each child and family comes from a different situation when it comes to special needs. Some of the kids, depending on their disability, show up and decide they do not want to play that day,” she says. “But, the moment you see each child come into their element and embrace the game, you see them come out of their shell. This is an organization driven by our athletes’ own determination.”

The family environment is very much embraced all over in the Miracle League. Ms. Burum says the League facilitates the opportunity for parents to interact with other parents in the same situation. “These parents are a support system for one another. To interact with people who are experiencing the same circumstances in life is a beautiful thing,” she shares. “And, emotionally, it is huge because it is not every day you come into an organization where you are surrounded with people who come from the same background.”

Ms. Burum says what makes the league so special is the opportunity it provides for athletes to interact and achieve individual goals through the league. “You see individualized growth with every athlete, and the ability for them to interact with other children like them, with special needs, makes the league so special,” she shares.

Funding for the league comes from a registration fee paid for by parents of athletes. However, scholarships are available through the league for families that need financial assistance. The remainder of funding comes from outside donations and through fundraisers the league organizes. “Our fundraisers are the Turkey Trot and the spring golf tournament. We also recently had a roast of former Frisco Mayor Maher Maso and he picked two charities for the proceeds. We were one of the two charities,” says Ms. Taylor.

For families looking to get their children involved in the Miracle League, the first season of the year is soccer, which starts in late winter. The league has no rules on how many sports a child can participate in at once, which is why so many athletes compete in all six sports throughout the year. “We have multiple kids in multiple sports. We do not have those official rules like other organizations because we just want the kids to have fun and be able to play,” says Ms. Taylor.

For parents of a child with special needs, the Miracle League is broken up into two separate leagues: competitive and non-competitive. Children who participate in the non-competitive league are given a buddy to help them play their given sport. The buddies take the child from one spot to another and put them in the right position for their given sport. This helps them make a play by themselves for their team. The league’s rules require buddies to be at least 12 years old and they are paired by the league with an athlete they can oversee. For some of the athletes who require adult supervision, that is also provided for them.

Sports bring families of all sizes, backgrounds and diverse challenges together. If your family is in search of a unique opportunity, you can learn more about the Miracle League of Frisco or register your child at friscomiracleleague.org. This is also a great place to learn more about becoming a volunteer or sponsor. You can get involved today in a truly unmatched community of caring, compassionate and, most of all, fun sports enthusiasts.

Frisco STYLE
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