UNION COUNTY — The Miracle League of Union County has received a $75,000 donation from the Timken Foundation, which could eventually be doubled depending on local fund-raising efforts.
The Timken Foundation of Canton reviewed a request from The Miracle League of Union County (MLUC) for $150,000 to be used for the construction of an all-inclusive playground at Timken Sports Complex. Timken Foundation trustees approved a grant of $150,000 which includes a matching contingency — with a $75,000 donation scheduled for payment in August and an additional $75,000 to be paid by the foundation if matching funds are raised by the MLUC by the end of August.
MLUC Director Amy Austin said this is the largest grant the organization has ever worked on, and several people were instrumental throughout the grant application process, including the local Timken Company.
“We are especially grateful to The Timken Foundation of Canton, Ohio who supported us through grant funding for our ball field in 2014 and had the faith in us to make this next dream a reality as well,” Austin said. “It is evident that their board sees what a wonderful, supportive community we have here and that lives are definitely being changed for the better through Miracle League.”
The Miracle League of Union County Facebook page stated, “2016 is going to be a year of possibility for Union County, bringing a shift in perspective in our small community.”
The MLUC said play and recreation will be possible for everyone — children and adults with disabilities or diseases like multiple sclerosis, older adults with physical challenges, veterans who come home with an injury, even children with Autism.
“Our inclusive playground will show that everyone has value, teaching children and adults that everyone can be together,” the page stated.
“We will see a child in a wheelchair having fun. We will see a daddy who is a Wounded Warrior, interact and join his child on a playground instead of watching her from a distance. We will see siblings, one with a physical disability and one without, play side by side like they’ve never been able to do before on a regular playground. Seeing what CAN be done will change our perception of people with disabilities. Instead of feeling pity, we will understand.”
The MLUC page also pointed out that ADA compliance and being truly inclusive are different.
“Accessible means you can get there. It means you may be able to use parts of a playground. An inclusive playground is for everyone, and this type of playground is a benefit to the entire community. Being a community with an inclusive playground means we are fair, included, smart, independent, safe, active and comfortable.”
Austin said she is confident the group will be able to raise $75,000 locally by August in order to get the full $150,000 grant from the Timken Foundation. On Monday, The MLUC received a private donation of $3,000. Board members will also hold a fund-raising drive, selling bricks to be placed at the new playground for $100 each. Austin pointed out that the sale of 750 bricks would make up the money to match the second half of the Timken Foundation’s grant.
“We welcome everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to purchase a brick that will be incorporated in the entrance way of the playground,” Austin said. “Between now and Valentine’s Day, we will sell these bricks for $100 each and those sold during this time will include a small ‘heart’ to commemorate this kick-off.”
Austin pointed out that bricks sold for $500 each during fundraising for the Miracle League of Union County’s baseball field and are displayed at the bench coming into the Timken Sports Complex.
Those who would like a brick on the playground walkway for a donation of $100 may call (864) 466-7879, contact a board member, or visit The Miracle League of Union County Facebook page or website at www.themiracleleagueofunioncounty.org.
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.