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Kids with accessories!

State Senator John Eichelberger called the Miracle League Field a “very special place that provides children with an opportunity to work at something on a team level.” Eichelberger lauded the Altoona Kiwanis for undertaking the project and “being one of the first 100 communities in the nation to step up.” Senator Eichelberger is shown with Pirate player 7-year-old Dasha Kirby of Summerhill and her 11-year-old player-buddy Samantha Stalter of Altoona. Saturday\’s game was the first ever game played by Dasha. Jay Fry, 12, of Williamsburg, met up with his friend and fellow ball player Adam Chesney, 15, of Altoona at the Blair County Miracle League\’s opening day. Although the boys played on opposing teams, their friendship remained in tact! Everyone wins in the Miracle League!
The teams lined up for the traditional “Good Game” handslap at the conclusion of the Miracle League’s first game. Games are played Saturday mornings at the Miracle League Field, located at Ellenberger Drive and California Avenue. The league is accepting new players. For more information or to volunteer, check out link at Welcome to the Miracle League Of Blair County.

Did you hear the news – 27 kids played baseball Saturday morning, July 21, on Blair County’s newest baseball field.
There were umpires, coaches, players, and cheering parents. So what, you might ask – kids play baseball all the time.
Yes, but in this game, besides having 27-players, there were 27-player-helpers who guided the players in everything from fielding to batting to “running” the bases. The coaches cheer everyone; umpires help stabilize a walker or give a start-off push to a wheelchair; and the play-by-play announcer is never critical of a batter’s efforts. This also is one league where the parents don’t badmouth an umpire’s call or a coach’s choice of batters.
The Blair County Miracle League began their inaugural game with a ribbon cutting ceremony, a few speeches, happy tears from overjoyed parents, and miles and miles of smiles from kids who up until Saturday’s game, never had the thrill of playing baseball. Lauren Gunder, the teenager who has appeared in many Miracle League Association national news stories said during the ribbon cutting that watching the Miracle League get started in Blair County would be miraculous.
“It will be amazing to see how this field and these games affect not only the players, but their parents and other adults too,” Gunder said from her wheelchair. “We’re no different than others who play baseball . . . we’re just kids with accessories!”
Diane Alford, Executive Director of the Miracle League Association, located in Conyers, GA, said the Altoona field is the 76th field to be completed. “There are a total of 100 under construction,” Ms. Alford said.“However, with 6.1 million American children with disabilities, this is only the beginning.”
Joe Reed, President of the Miracle League of Blair County threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the season, following the playing of the national anthem. The home team for the day was the Pirates with the Orioles sitting as visitors. From the Orioles’ team, Maggie Weyandt, age 7, of Williamsburg was the first batter and coincidentally scored the Miracle League’s first run. In the second inning, the Orioles Becky Frew of Newry stole the first base in the league’s history!
There was a solid offensive effort put forth by the home team, The Pirates. Player-Coach (and Miracle League Board of Directors member) Dan Burkhart was proud of his team for coming back to tie the game. “We played great!” Burkhart beamed. “Being down by 13 runs at the middle of the third inning looked hopeless. Our guys and girls managed to catch the Orioles by the end of the game.”
After the game, exhausted League President Reed could not have been more pleased. “Today was awesome!” he said. “Everyone had a job to do and they did – I can’t believe the number of smiles there were on that field, today. This was an all volunteer effort and it was just awesome.”
The Pirates and the Orioles play again Saturday at the Miracle League Field, located at Ellenberger Drive and California Avenue. The league is accepting new players. For more information or to volunteer, check out link at Welcome to the Miracle League Of Blair County.
Oh, by the way, the final score of the three-inning game was 37 to 37. The teams each celebrated their victories – but only after the traditional “Good Game” hand-slap.