OB donates $ 20,000 to the Miracle League of Coastal Alabama; City will also match other Baldwin government donations of up to $ 100,000
OB donates $ 20,000 to the Miracle League of Coastal Alabama
City will also match other Baldwin government donations of up to $ 100,000
By John Mullen and Fran Thompson
Orange Beach has pledged $ 20,000 to the Miracle League of Coastal Alabama and pledged to match donations from other Baldwin County governments up to a total of $ 100,000 on the meeting agenda. October 5 council.
The total cost of the project to be built on land donated by the Town of Summerdale is estimated to be approximately $ 2.7 million. Construction of the park is part of the Gulf Shores Lions Club Legacy Project that began in 2018.
The Miracle League field is specially designed for children with special needs. The park can accommodate wheelchairs, walkers and other assistive devices while helping to prevent injuries.
In its resolution, Orange Beach said the park would be in the best interests of all of Baldwin County, including the residents of Orange Beach. The project “will improve the lives of children and adults in the region facing severe physical and mental disabilities,” the city documents say.
When complete, the resort on County Rd. 71 will be the only such facility in Baldwin County, although the Miracle League of Pensacola is thriving.
Miracle League of Coastal Alabama President Bruce White said the donation would be a big boost for the project.
“They said they would match the donations from the Baldwin County community,” White said. “It’s strong enough.”
The Miracle League committee raised approximately $ 800,000 in January 2020 and used it to prepare the site and purchase playground equipment, which cost approximately $ 619,000. The rest was spent to build the entrance to the site.
“At this point, we’ve raised about $ 950,000 and we have about $ 60,000 in the bank,” White said. “Our fundraising will be to set up this playing field surface. We had set up the playing field and we were trying to surface. At the time, we bought the surface, but we had to do the installation, which represents a job of about $ 30,000. But you need to install the curbs and sidewalk before you can do that. Between the two, it’s about $ 85,000.
The Miracle League of Coastal Alabama’s total project is $ 2.7 million and includes a fully accessible baseball field, clubhouse with benches, concession parking and washrooms.
“We are extremely grateful to the City of Orange Beach for providing us with tremendous support with this generous donation. The money raised by this commitment will allow us to install the sidewalk and the binding edge around the playing field and to install the playing field surface, ”said White.
White added that in addition to challenging other Baldwin towns to participate in the project, Orange Beach’s generosity has generated additional media attention that is expected to result in increased donations going forward.
“We are already seeing this happening. This Orange Beach thing was huge, ”White said. “We are getting calls for interviews from local TV stations and we expect other municipalities to step up. “
Orange Beach city councilor Jeff Silvers is on the MLCA committee.
“We have met for the past three years, toured, wrote grants and talked to different companies. We have already built the playing field and now we are moving forward with the facilities and the grounds. That’s a pretty cool thing, ”Silvers before the Orange Beach vote. “We are challenging a lot of other municipalities in Baldwin County because it’s not just some kids from Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, it’s the entire county that will be able to participate. Thank you, Mayor and Council, for the support.
White said Summerdale pledged $ 5,000 and Elberta $ 1,000 since Orange Beach launched its matching fund challenge.
“We have met Magnolia Springs and they make a decision. We are meeting Robertsdale on November 5th, ”he said. “Fairhope and Foley have finished their budgets but are planning to do something outside of the normal budget. We are waiting for the dates to make a presentation to everyone.
We haven’t heard from Gulf Shores, Loxley, Silverhill, Bay Minette, Spanish Fort and Daphne. ”
White said when the playground is complete, the next phase will be to build a pavilion adjacent to the playground that could be in part a “community building,” where businesses and residents are helping with construction.
There are still infrastructure projects, including a parking lot, that will cost around $ 1.2 million, White said. The final phase will be the Miracle League baseball field with a prize pool of around $ 700,000.
Launched as a joint venture of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Lions clubs, MLCA broke new ground on a beautiful 10-acre slate just 20 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico in August 2019. The land was donated by the City of Summerdale.
Summerdale Mayor David Wilson said he and his city council attempted to bring Miracle League land to their town even before being approached by the MLCA.
“The Robertsdale Mayor and City Council responded quickly to all of our needs,” White said. “They have been 100% behind the project from the start.”
First established in 2004, the MLCA gained momentum when the two Pleasure Island Lions clubs got involved.
“It started with the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Lions clubs,” White said. “It was their commitment to the project that got us going in the first place.
The $ 2.7 million needed to complete the project can seem overwhelming.
“I know it’s a lot of money. We just do it day by day and step by step, ”White said.
White said having Ken Gates of Ken Gates Construction on board was key to starting construction on the project and keeping the various committees focused on the next steps.
“Ken’s time alone would probably be worth $ 200,000,” White said. “It allowed us to stay focused on the future. It can be overwhelming when you’re raising $ 2.7 million. But if you can break it down into fundraising to complete each phase, then it’s more manageable, and it’s easier for people to relate to when you ask for donations. Once we’ve completed a phase, Ken decides what’s next and how much it will cost, and we go out and increase that amount. ”
The specialty baseball field and playing field surface will include a padded, synthetic and rubberized surface that will remove any obstacle to wheelchairs, walkers or other mobility devices. The complex will also include disabled accessible canoes, toilets and water fountains as well as an unlimited playground.
The MLCA has so far raised $ 950,000, the majority of which was through grants that stopped coming when the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged the United States in March 2020.
“Our fundraising has come to a complete halt,” White said. “People weren’t able to organize events and all of the grants we requested were used instead to help with the pandemic response. “
Since its inception, the MLCA has benefited from motorcycling, running or walking and hitting golf balls. A 2019 Chevy Colorado truck has been drawn. People asked people to donate to the cause as a birthday present and in memory of their lost loved ones.
The Snook Foundation donated $ 100,000 and the Baldwin County Sunset Rotary Club made the project its primary beneficiary.
Lions Club International has awarded the MLCA a grant of $ 100,000 and is expected to provide a second grant for this amount in 2022.
IMPACT 100 provided the MLCA with a grant of $ 91,000. The Erie Meyer Foundation gave $ 52,000 to the MLCA, and the Foley Womens Club and the United Methodist Church of Gulf Shores donated $ 10,000. Companies such as Hangout have also made large donations, and the donation of in-kind services and building materials has been large.
Yet the MLCA committee has yet to raise $ 1.9 million from the estimated cost of the project to $ 2.7 million.
“We build in degrees,” White said. “We are proceeding in phases. We just want to focus on our next step and whatever it is, we’ll be raising the funds to complete this part.
“We just had the best meeting we’ve ever had in terms of making things happen,” he added. “It’s like we’re finally starting to move forward again. “
Pictured: (opposite page) Architectural rendering of Miracle League Park in Summerdale. (Below) The Gulf Shores Lions raised nearly $ 600 in donations and raised awareness of the project at Freedom Fest.