Compelled by a presentation made at last year’s Kiwanis International Conference, members of the Charlotte Kiwanis Club are pushing forward with plans to bring a Miracle League ballpark and playground to Charlotte.
However, the task is no small undertaking.
“It’s about a $1 million project for the softball field, climbing equipment and concession stands,” said Dan Vanderstelt, Charlotte Kiwanis Club president. “This is going to take every club and every citizen to make this happen.”
The Miracle League was created to allow children with mental or physical abilities to be able to experience the game of baseball. Miracle League fields are constructed utilizing a rubberized turf that allows for wheelchairs, crutches and other assistive devices to navigate all areas freely.
“When you look at how many thousands of dollars we put into regular fields, it’s time to put some money towards something like this with our athletic park,” Vanderstelt said.
Vanderstelt is leading the effort to put together a board of directors for the potential league, which would identify a location for the potential field and playground in addition to putting a fundraising plan in place. He said the group of individuals currently discussing the project identified the park being constructed this spring by the Charlotte Area Recreation Cooperative as a potential building site.
“It’s one suggestion that we have had that really makes sense,” he said.
In addition to being developed beginning this spring, the location of the Rec Co-op park — just north of Samuel L. Combs Industrial Park — is located close to Meadowview School. Meadowview, located within Eaton Regional Education Service Agency (RESA), services students with moderate and severe cognitive impairments, autism spectrum disorders and traumatic brain injuries.
Vanderstelt said the Miracle League fields could be of great benefit to Meadowview students and has the potential to benefit more than 1,000 children in Eaton County.
Miracle League parks have been established in Grand Rapids and DeWitt. For more information, visit
One fundraiser is already underway in Charlotte. The Kiwanis Club Shoe Drive is going on now through April 1 and will benefit the Miracle League and Kiwanis Club’s Key Club, its local youth chapter. Donation locations have been established throughout the downtown area to collect new and used shoes.
Currently, shoes may be dropped off at Ameriprise Financial, 107 W. Lawrence Avenue; Fay’s Evelyn Bay, 134 S. Cochran Avenue, Re/Max, 128 S. Cochran Avenue; Independent Bank, 129 Lansing Street; Fulton Lumber Company, 316 N. Washington Street; Charlotte City Hall, First Baptist Church, Lawrence Avenue United Methodist Church, Russell and Schrader Insurance, 114 E. Lawrence Avenue office, Courthouse Square Association, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, and Crosswalk Teen Center.
The shoes are sent to Funds2orgs, which purchases the new and gently used shoes, and repurposes them to provide an economic boost by creating micro-enterprise opportunities in developing nations like Haiti and many parts of Africa. Proceeds from the shoe sales are used to feed, clothe and house families. One budding entrepreneur even earned enough to send her son to law school.
Shoes must be donated in pairs. Pairs are packaged together in groups of 25 and sent to Funds2orgs, which processes the packages and pays non-profit organizations by the pound.