Removing the barriers experienced by children with physical and mental disabilities was the goal when the Miracle League first started in April of 2000 in the state of Georgia. The idea behind this incredible organization has spread like wild fire and now consists of over 240 Miracle League Organizations serving over 200 000 children and adults who might not otherwise have the opportunity to play the game of baseball.
The Miracle League brings a unique angle to the traditional game of baseball that allows participants to blossom, not only as players, but as individuals. The proven ‘buddy’ system the league employs pairs each disabled player with an able-bodied player and fosters new friendships, skills and tremendous confidence in all who participate.
In the summer of 2012, a local Ottawa family approached both the Champions for Ottawa Baseball and the Orleans Rotary Club with expressed interest in bringing a Miracle League to Ottawa to support their son Bryce’s love of baseball. Bryce, who was born with cerebral palsy, wanted dearly to partake in a baseball league and his parents, Rolly and Michelle Desrochers, set out to make his dream a reality.
This summer, that dream becomes a reality as the Miracle League of Ottawa officially kicks off. When this project was initially planned, a budget of $1.6 million was needed to get it off the ground. The Desrochers family along with throngs of volunteers, formed partnerships with the JaysCare Foundation, The Progressive Waste Solutions/Friends of The Mer Bleue Inc Community Fund, the Ottawa Champions Baseball Club, Trinity Developments, Telus, Claridge Homes and the Rotary Club of Orleans, among others.
The chief partner ended up being the city of Ottawa, pledging to fund the venture 50/50 with the Miracle League of Ottawa as well as an existing baseball field to further the vision of the Miracle League.
As part of the construction, Sport Systems was commissioned to build a bleacher system that complied with the recently updated Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Just the same as the league itself offers its players a fair opportunity to partake in the game of baseball, the AODA plays an important role in ensuring parks serve those with disabilities to the highest level possible. The parks and the structures within them are designed to offer all those living with disabilities both equal access to structures and vantage points as well as to uphold stringent safety standards for all spectators.
Ramps, landings, guardrails and staircases are among the chief concerns outlined in the updated mandate of the AODA. Each part of the structure is set to accommodate those with physical disabilities and those who rely on the use of a wheelchair for mobility.
Now at its completion, Ottawa’s Miracle League Ballpark now comprises of a fully accessible field, a fully accessible play structure and a clubhouse containing two fully accessible change rooms, two washrooms, and a canteen and storage room for equipment.
We have included a video below about Bryce Desrochers’ courageous story: