Chuck Bondy

Miracle League golf tournament has no trouble attracting golfers

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Miracle League of Amherstburg held its annual golf tournament last Saturday afternoon with it attracting more golfers than ever before.

“We had more than a full house,” said Michele Vigneux, a board member and publicity director for Miracle League. “We’ve had to turn away more than a few teams. It’s a good problem to have.”

The total amount raised from the tournament won’t be known for a few weeks, according to Vigneux, but she said they were aiming to raise over $10,000. She said the proceeds from this year’s tournament will go towards the installation of a wheelchair accessible swing at the accessible playground next to the Miracle League diamond.

“We’re hoping, if we can raise enough money, that we can get it installed this fall,” she said. “That’s the goal.”

The swing, known as a Liberty Swing, costs $48,000 though the league has received $8,000 in cash donations and $17,500 in in-kind services. The remaining $22,500 comes from the Miracle League’s funding, which includes proceeds from such events as the golf tournament.

Special Olympian Kyle Spearing was part of Team Amherstburg for last Saturday’s Miracle League golf tournament at Sutton Creek Golf Club. From left: Miracle League publicity director/board member Michele Vigneux, CAO John Miceli, Spearing, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Miracle League board president Chuck Bondy, Libro Centre operations director Sandy Lindsay.

Special Olympian Kyle Spearing was part of Team Amherstburg for last Saturday’s Miracle League golf tournament at Sutton Creek Golf Club. From left: Miracle League publicity director/board member Michele Vigneux, CAO John Miceli, Spearing, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Miracle League board president Chuck Bondy, Libro Centre operations director Sandy Lindsay.

Word has gotten around about Miracle League and the golf tournament. Vigneux said people know the money is going to a good cause and there were a lot of good prizes. Mike Bondy, a board member and volunteer with Miracle League, was able to secure a number of prizes including one week at a luxury home in Florida and trips to Cape Cod, Agawa Canyon, Washington and a condo in Shanty Creek.

Despite numerous donations throughout the year, the Miracle League doesn’t do any of its own fundraising except for the golf tournament.

“It’s our only fundraiser,” said Vigneux. “We hope to get the biggest bang for our buck as we can.”

Vigneux added it was the first year Mayor Aldo DiCarlo golfed in the tournament. He was joined by Special Olympian Kyle Spearing, CAO John Miceli and Libro Centre operations manager Sandy Lindsay.

“We’re really thankful to have everyone’s support,” Vigneux added. That includes new and returning golfers and sponsors.

“Everything we do is for the players and the league,” added Chuck Bondy, president of the Miracle League’s board of directors.

Bondy thanked all involved and stated “we couldn’t do this without all of the players and the volunteers are unbelievable.”

The fall season for the Miracle League of Amherstburg starts Sept. 9. For more information on Miracle League, visit www.amherstburgmiracle.com or call 519-919-4641.

Miracle League celebrates its volunteers

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A quartet of Miracle League volunteers have summed up their feeling helping the local organization.

Conor Dawson, Brad Bondy, Avery Duhart and Nancy Ferguson are four of the many that volunteer their Saturdays with Miracle League, which concluded its spring season June 24. They all got started in different ways but are all glad they are involved.

“I play baseball for Turtle Club (in LaSalle),” explained Dawson. “I like the game and try to get easy volunteer hours.”

For Duhart, it was another case of getting high school volunteer hours.

Among the many volunteers that help the Miracle League of Amherstburg operate are Brad Bondy, Conor Dawson, Nancy Ferguson and Avery Duhart. All four say they find their experiences rewarding.

Among the many volunteers that help the Miracle League of Amherstburg operate are Brad Bondy, Conor Dawson, Nancy Ferguson and Avery Duhart. All four say they find their experiences rewarding.

“I started volunteering for high school and I really enjoyed it after I got my hours,” he said. “Also, you can’t beat free food.”

Ferguson said she started out at the barbecue but said she wanted to be a “buddy” to some of the athletes.

“It’s very rewarding,” said Ferguson.

Bondy said he enjoys announcing the games every Saturday during the Miracle League’s spring and fall seasons, noting he sees the excitement in the players’ eyes.

“When they get a home run, it’s beautiful to see,” he said. “Without the volunteers, that wouldn’t happen. It’s an amazing thing.”

Duhart said when he sees people with disabilities, he understands what they go through thanks to Miracle League. Dawson agreed, and quoted the Miracle League motto “Everyone deserves a chance to play baseball!”

“I agree with that,” said Dawson.

Bondy said whenever he or his family sees someone with challenges, they refer them to Miracle League. Ferguson added that Miracle League athlete Bryan Dzombak grew up with her son Chase and still know each other.

The four volunteers describe their experiences with Miracle League as inspiring, amazing, motivational and rewarding with Dawson stating it has opened his eyes to people with disabilities and what they can accomplish.

“You are playing the game through them,” added Ferguson.

All four agree that there is no one player that makes the days special, with Bondy saying the list of positive experiences is “endless.” He added that it is nice to see people young and old attend games, noting it’s not just for Amherstburg residents but all of Windsor-Essex County.

Chuck Bondy, president of the Miracle League’s board of directors, said it is the volunteers that make things happen every week. He added that the public is very generous with donations and credited them for generating the money to fund Miracle League operations.

“All we do is steer the ship,” said Bondy. “It’s the volunteers that make it go.”

Golfers hit the links in support of Miracle League of Amherstburg

By Jonathan Martin

The Miracle League of Amherstburg has held a golf tournament at Sutton Creek Golf Club to help fund the installation of a wheelchair-accessible swing at the Libro Centre.

While Miracle League chair Chuck Bondy said it’s unusual for the tournament’s revenue to go towards a capital project, he said he has no doubt that it will succeed.

“We’ve had goals in the past,” he said. “We wanted to put in a big, LED scoreboard where you could watch videos and put up pictures and we got one through an anonymous donation of a serious amount of money. This swing will be in next year.”

Chad Mayrand tees off at the seventh annual Miracle League golf tournament, held at Sutton Creek Golf Club in Amherstburg last Saturday.  The funds raised at the golf tournament will go towards the installation of a wheelchair accessible swing at the Libro Centre.

Chad Mayrand tees off at the seventh annual Miracle League golf tournament, held at Sutton Creek Golf Club in Amherstburg last Saturday. The funds raised at the golf tournament will go towards the installation of a wheelchair accessible swing at the Libro Centre. (RTT Photo by Jonathan Martin)

If history is any indication, it seems likely he’s right. According to golf tournament chair Mike Bondy, this is the third year in a row the event has reached its 144-golfer capacity.

“We are incredibly grateful to the community for their support,” Mike Bondy said. “They’ve been with us every step of the way.”

After the swing goes in, Chuck Bondy said he already has an idea of where he wants to go next. He wants to see the Miracle League mascot, named Hunter, jump out of an airplane and land in the Miracle League park, giant baseball head and all.

“This is going to happen too,” Chuck Bondy said.

Presently, he’s looking for someone who skydives.

In the meantime, the two men are focused on getting the wheelchair accessible swing installed in the Libro Centre. According to Chuck Bondy, the swings aren’t cheap and neither are they easy to find.

Nonetheless, he reiterated that the swing will be installed by next year.

The fall season for the Miracle League gets underway Sept. 10.

Husband and wife Miracle League board members receive award

 

 

By Shelbey Hernandez

 

Those who help run the Miracle League of Amherstburg are grateful for an award they received at the second annual Windsor-Essex Accessibility Awards.

There were eight awards presented at the WEAA which was held at the Fogolar Furlan Club June 27. Two members of Amherstburg’s Miracle League board of directors, Chuck and Ann Bondy, won the Barrier Free Access Award. This award recognizes those who remove barriers for those with disabilities.

Chuck is the current board president while Ann also sits on the board.

Ann said although she is grateful for the award, there are many people involved in the league so without the hundreds of people involved in putting it together, it wouldn’t go off as well as it does.

Ann said the most rewarding part of what she does is the experience she is able to provide for those who may not have been able to get into a sport before.

“It’s exciting when you get out there and you watch the players and how much they appreciate being able to do this. They’ve all bonded with each other and their team mates now and their coaches and we’ve developed a whole rapport with their families and with our committee members,” said Ann. “It’s kind of a meeting place now. You show up out there and everybody’s saying, ‘Hi, how are you?’ and excited to be there. Some of the players have been playing with us now since 2009, seven years. So we’ve watched some of them grow up. They may have been five years old when they started and now they’re in their teens.”

The league was started back in 2008 with the first games going off in 2009. Now, they have more than 100 people who play with 19 new players brought in just this spring.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and John Lopez of Royal Lepage Binder Real Estate who sponsored the Barrier Free Access award are photographed presenting the award to Ann Bondy and Chuck Bondy during the second annual Windsor-Essex Accessibility Awards held at the Fogolar Furlan Club June 27. The Bondy's started the Miracle League of Amherstburg and so this award was presented to them on behalf of their work in that. (Photo by Shelbey Hernandez)

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and John Lopez of Royal Lepage Binder Real Estate who sponsored the Barrier Free Access award are photographed presenting the award to Ann Bondy and Chuck Bondy during the second annual Windsor-Essex Accessibility Awards held at the Fogolar Furlan Club June 27. The Bondy’s started the Miracle League of Amherstburg and so this award was presented to them on behalf of their work in that. (Photo by Shelbey Hernandez)

Ann isn’t the only one who knows just how much work is put into the league. Executive director for Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario, Lynn Calder, said speaking on behalf of the nomination committee, the league is very impressive.

“It’s a fully accessible baseball field and it almost looks like a professional baseball field,” said Calder. “Every week when they have baseball games which anybody can play, it’s all people with disabilities who play but able-body people are playing alongside them as well and it’s just a massive celebration every single game. We were just so impressed by the inclusion, by the accessibility of the diamond itself, the involvement of so many people at so many different levels, no detail is left to chance.”

The office building where Calder works is not accessible because the elevator broke a couple years ago. So Calder said the accessibility awards are meant not only to recognize those who work to make Windsor-Essex County a more accessible place, but also to bring awareness to the places that aren’t accessible like the ALSO office building.

Calder said raising awareness and recognizing those who improve accessibility standards is very much necessary. After all, she said even if someone doesn’t have a disability now, they may very well find themselves with one later on down the road.

The Amherstburg Rotary Club originally brought the Miracle League to Amherstburg but the league is now run by its own board.

Miracle League to replace playing surface with aid of $210,000 donation

When the Miracle League of Amherstburg resumes Sept. 12, it is expected a new playing surface will be on the diamond at the Libro Centre.

When the Miracle League of Amherstburg resumes Sept. 12, it is expected a new playing surface will be on the diamond at the Libro Centre. Action from opening day of the spring season is pictured.

By Ron Giofu

 

Golfers hit the links to support the Miracle League of Amherstburg last Saturday, but the players will be hitting the field on a brand new surface next month.

Town council allowed a renovation of the Miracle League diamond to proceed Monday evening, by passing a motion allowing money to be utilized from the Amherstburg Community Foundation for the project. An anonymous donation of $210,000 was made specifically for Miracle League projects, like the new playing surface, with the money flowing through the foundation.

“We’re dealing only with the infield surface at this point,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, adding there is enough money donated to pursue other initiatives as well.

CAO John Miceli noted it will be the town issuing the purchase orders with Miracle League board members helping to oversee the installation of the new surface. Miceli called Miracle League a grassroots group that is doing good things for the town and that the motion passed by council allows for the “I’s to be dotted and the T’s crossed.”

“We have a fund (like the Amherstburg Community Foundation) for this reason,” said DiCarlo. “We maintain the fund for such an occasion.”

When donations like this come in, the mayor added, they can flow through the foundation.

“It’s their funds to spend. We’re just facilitating the project,” said DiCarlo.

Miracle League board president Chuck Bondy said Saturday the league received a “significant donation” from a yet-to-be revealed donor to cover the bulk of the costs of the new and improved surface. He said the donation has been in the works for about six months when Miracle League was approached and the donor agreed to assist.

The Miracle League knew last year it would need a new surface soon and started devoting golf tournament funds towards it. The league will still have some costs to cover once it is installed.

“If you don’t have a surface, you don’t have the Miracle League,” said Bondy.

In addition to the new playing surface, future plans also call for a new LED video screen installed. Bondy estimated the video screen to be ten-feet by seven-feet.

The entire project is expected to cost $250,000 but Bondy pledged that cost will be covered by the donor and by Miracle League.

“None of this is taxpayer money,” he pledged.

DiCarlo pointed out there will be $15,000 coming from the town, but that is a fulfillment of a prior commitment made by the town several years ago.

Sponsor logos, such as CIBC and Rotary, are also expected to be included on the new field surface.

Bondy added Miracle League wanted naming rights and full control of the diamond as well as to be the sole body to maintain the diamond.

Proceeds from this year’s tournament won’t be known for a couple of weeks, noted Miracle League board members and publicity director Michele Vigneux. She pointed out the number of golfers was up this year. There were 147 people on the course at Sutton Creek Golf Club this year as compared to 116 last year.

“It’s been an overwhelming response this year,” said Vigneux. “We had a waiting list for a bit this year.”

Miracle League board member Michele Vigneux (left) stands with golf tournament ambassador Jace Conway and her parents Barry and Kate.

Miracle League board member Michele Vigneux (left) stands with golf tournament ambassador Jace Conway and her parents Barry and Kate.

Many people who attended last year returned this year with newcomers also taking part. She said word has spread about the Miracle League and the golf tournament so that resulted in an increased turnout.

“I think when people find out about Miracle League, it’s hard not to support it.”

There were numerous sponsors this year, including 53 hole sponsors, with board member Mike Bondy assisting with some of the trips for the raffle table. Among the trips that were raffled off were vacations to Oregon, Orlando and Nova Scotia.

Eight-year-old Jace Conway was this year’s ambassador with the young Miracle League athlete visiting with golfers on the course and speaking to them at the post-tournament dinner. Conway offered thanks for supporting Miracle League as well as what she likes about it.

“My favourite part of Miracle League is being able to bat by myself and not having help playing the game,” she said.

Jace started when she was four-years-old and said she no longer needs a “buddy” to help her on the field. Her parents, Barry and Kate, were also on hand and Vigneux describes them as a “Miracle League family” as they also assist other children on game days and help with fundraising.

“We look forward to Saturdays,” said Barry.

He added it is hard to explain what they like best about it.

“Everyone has a good time,” he said. “It’s hard to describe. You have to see it to understand it.”

Bondy expects the new field to be ready by the time the fall season gets underway Sept. 12.