FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas baseball team joined a group of volunteers Saturday in celebration of Opening Day for the Miracle League in Northwest Arkansas. Junior catcher James McCann and sophomore pitcher DJ Baxendale, both members of Arkansas’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, helped organize the Razorbacks’ participation.
"When we found out about this opportunity, we brought it to the team and they were excited," McCann said. "This was a really good experience for us because we’ve all been so blessed and being part of the Miracle League was a great chance for us to give back to those who may need our help."
In 2006, the Miracle League made its debut in the Natural State with an organization in Little Rock. Northwest Arkansas is the latest addition with Saturday’s opening day festivities. Ten teams took the field during the day with the Razorback baseball team and other volunteers serving as "buddies" for each player.
The Miracle League was founded in 1998 by the Rockdale Youth Baseball Association in Georgia. The mission of the organization is to provide opportunities for all children to play baseball regardless of their disability. The league began with 35 players on four teams. The Miracle League has since been established across the United States.
Presently, there are more than 200 Miracle League sites across the country, including Puerto Rico, with 100 completed rubberized fields and 100 more still under construction. The organization proudly serves over 80,000 children and young adults with disabilities.
The Razorbacks’ community service efforts for the 2010-11 academic season began last week with the start of Sweat Hawgs, the longest-running program in Razorback athletics, as gymnastics co-head coach Rene Cook, gymnasts Michelle Stout and Jamie Pisani and women’s basketball student-athletes Erin Gatling and Julie Inman made a visit to Butterfield Elementary School.