A group has launched a fundraiser in a bid to build accessible baseball diamond and playground in east Ottawa for children with disabilities.
The project, called Miracle League of Ottawa, is the brainchild of Bryce Desrochers and his parents. They officially began a fundraising campaign Saturday morning at Place D’Orleans Shopping Centre.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson was also on hand to launch the campaign that aims to raise $1 million. The city has agreed in principle to cover half of that cost, or $500,000.
Michelle Desrochers, Bryce’s mother, said an accessible playground has been built in the U.S. There is also a “miracle” field near Windsor, Ont., but that does not include a playground.
Desrochers was watching TV when she saw a specialized diamond.
“Immediately I thought, what, why, how come I never heard of this before because we’re really good at trying to source out things to do for him, recreationally,” she told Giacomo Panico, host of CBC Radio’s In Town and Out.
Dirt, gravel diamonds hinder the fun
Bryce, who has cerebral palsy, is a baseball nut who loves the Toronto Blue Jays. He has a bit of trouble playing on dirt or gravel baseball diamonds because of his wheelchair. For example, he can’t circle the bases because his wheels get caught.
“I (also) get stuck if it’s raining. My tires get really dirty,” he said. “(Baseball) makes me more independent, not having to be with my mom and dad hitting the ball for me and having a friend or teammate help me bat.”
The accessible diamond and playground would be built at Notre-Dame des Champs Park near Navan and Mer Bleue roads in Orleans. It would feature elements such as a rubber surface with white bases painted on, so children like Bryce would not get stuck or get dirty tires when it rained.
Construction could begin as soon as April 2014 and it should be built by 2015, according to David Gourlay. He spearheaded the city’s hopes for a double-A baseball team.
Gourlay’s group, Champions for Ottawa Baseball, and the Ottawa Rotary Club are also backing the idea. Gourlay said his group has raised $15,000 while the rotary club is donating $30,000.
The Friends of Mer Bleue, a non-profit organization in the area, also said $100,000 would be donated to the project through the BFI Canada/Friends of the Mer Bleue Community Fund.