Miracle League begins new season

By Rebekah Martin
Assistant Editor

The Miracle League of East Alabama is days away from kicking off its spring season. Games begin March 28 and will be held every Saturday at 10 a.m. until May 9 at the West Ridge Baseball Complex at 1600 Covington Ave. in Opelika.
Miracle League is a nationwide non-profit organization that was founded in Conyers, Ga in April 2000. Miracle League gives children and adults who might not otherwise have the chance an opportunity to shine at America’s favorite pastime. As said in the Miracle League’s theme video on www.miracleleague.com, “Under the lights, I’m a star tonight. Looks like I’m living the dream.”
With a mission to “remove the barriers that keep children with mental and physical disabilities off the baseball field,” Miracle League serves over 200,000 children and adults around the country and is open to those with any disability, whether mental or physical.
Towanda Key has worked with Miracle League of East Alabama for a number of years and is a coach of two Opelika teams this year, the Cardinals and the Nationals.
“I love the positive environment we have at Miracle League,” said Key. “It allows our players to get out there and do regular activities and get positive feedback. It makes them feel good and makes us feel good, because we’re really just serving them.”
Gwen Janigan, who serves as a director of operations for the Miracle League of East Alabama, said she finds fulfillment in watching the excitement of the players.
“The smile on their faces when they hit that ball – for me that’s the best part.”
Sheneka Taylor is in her second year with Miracle League and this will be her first year as a coach. Taylor said she enjoys seeing how Opelika shows its support for Miracle League every year. “It’s a beautiful thing to see people in the community get involved with our players,” said Taylor. “It’s a great thing to witness.”
Key said she believes Miracle League benefits the community as a whole, not just the players. “It gives them the opportunity to see what we do and what we are all about,” said Key. “It quenches a thirst for people who wonder what this community offers for people with disabilities.”
Pat Buchanan has played on a Miracle League team for the last few years and she said she is excited to play again this year. Buchanan said her favorite parts of the game are when she gets to hit and catch the ball.
“I like the game,” Buchanan said. “I used to play with my brothers. You know what they did? They made me play with a real baseball.”
Jimmy Rogers also enjoys hitting the ball, but he said his favorite part is when he hits a home run. He said he plans to hit several home runs this year.
Janigan said Miracle League is always in need of more volunteers. Volunteers can cheer players on from the stands or take on a more hands-on role as a “buddy” who assists players in running the bases. Those interested in volunteering as a buddy can email arowland10@aol.com.
To volunteer in another capacity or to make a donation, contact Miracle League of East Alabama, P.O. Box 1747, Opelika, AL 36803 or eamiracleleague@gmail.com.