LIMA — The Allen County Disabilities Baseball league now has a new home.
A dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the new Abilities Baseball Field on the University of Northwestern Ohio campus.
The Rotary Field of Dreams at UNOH is located on the west end of the campus behind the baseball and soccer fields.
The project was the brainchild of Rachael Staley, an early intervention specialist with the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities, who founded the Disabilities Baseball League in 2003.
“It’s been a long-time coming. It’s a dream come true for not only myself but for the kids and the families that have played the last 14 years,” Staley said.
This field will be a big improvement over the grass and dirt fields they played on a Faurot Park on Sunday nights.
“It’s an all synthetic turf surface and it’s painted to look exactly like a baseball field,” she said.
That artificial surface can make all the difference to baseball players with disabilities.
“You don’t understand until you have a child with a disability, how a grass field or how mud and dirt can impact them. It throws off their gait. It throws off their balance. We won’t have to cancel for rain. If it rains in the morning, we can still play in the afternoon,” she said.
They’ve needed a new field for quite a while.
“We started with 52 kids. We have about 110 kids now. We serve kids ages 4 to 21 for right now but with our own field we’ll be able to expand the league and create an adult league as well,” she said.
Staley pitched the idea to Dr. Jeff Jarvis, president of UNOH.
“Right out of the gate, when Rachael came to me and needed a facility, we were in it from the moment she talked with me. It was an easy yes right out of the gate when she brought the need to me,” Jarvis said.
“I’ve been involved in over 60 projects in my 43 years here at UNOH. This is by far the most rewarding. I’ve had more fun being involved with this project for the Abilities Baseball League. It’s just been a heartwarming and great thing to be involved with,” Jarvis added.
The Lima Rotary Club was instrumental in providing $100,000 for the project and many other individuals and businesses chipped in as well.
Reach Sam Shriver 567-242-0467