LIMA — The Lima Rotary began discussing in February 2014 about something to do in celebration of its 100th anniversary in 2015. On Saturday, a group of special-needs children were the benefit of that decision.
The Rotary made a $100,000 investment in the Abilities Baseball League, a local baseball league that caters to 86 special-needs children from the age of 3 to 21 in Lima and the surrounding area. The league plans to build a baseball field at the UNOH sports complex, which has donated the use of the land.
Peggy Cockerell with the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities said the money will go a long way in helping local children with special needs.
“Currently the league plays at Faurot Park,” Cockerell said. “It is heavily used and we usually can only get one night a week. This will allow for the Abilities Baseball League to expand what it does.”
The fields at Faurot have worked well for normal baseball games, but the field has presented weather challenges to the Abilities League. Many of the participants are in wheelchairs and have their parents push them around the bases. The new field at UNOH will allow for it to be especially geared for Abilities League play.
Cockerell said the league was started several years ago by Rachel Staley, an early-intervention specialist, and several other therapists at Lima Memorial Health System.
“Its been going for quite a few years,” Cockerell said. “The kids have so much pride.”
Cindy Wood, chairman of the Lima Rotary Club Foundation Committee that helped select the winner, said it wasn’t an easy choice. The group received 25 applicants for the funding.
“It was an extremely difficult choice,” she said. “We wanted to do a project that was capital needs rather than operating funds.”
Several members of the Rotary said they believe it was the biggest one-time donation ever made by the club, which has given away millions of dollars since its inception in 1915.
“Right away we had four applicants that kind of rose to the top,” said Esther Baldridge with the Rotary. “We called them in for personal interviews, and then the full club selected the recipient. It was a great way to celebrate our centennial.”
Cockerell said plans have not yet been set for the building of the field.
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