Miracle League of Amherstburg

Miracle League of Amherstburg celebrates 10 years of smiles

 

 

By Christian Bouchard

 

It was all smiles and laughter as the Miracle League of Amherstburg kicked off their tenth season of baseball last Saturday.

The Miracle League of Amherstburg is home to players from around Windsor-Essex County with physical challenges or intellectual disabilities, giving them a chance to play baseball.

Since its inaugural year 10 years ago, the league has grown from 40 players on a dirt diamond to now having over 160 players. All games are played at the Miracle Diamond at the Libro Centre on a barrier-free rubberized surface allowing anyone with walkers or mobility issues to play. A typical game has teams rotating between batting and fielding, so all athletes get the chance to play.

Raven Mallat takes a swing at a pitch .Games run every Saturday through Oct. 20.

Michelle Vigneux, one of the Miracle League’s board members and its publicity director said the community support has been exceptional. She added how thrilled she is to see how many people get to witness what the Miracle League represents.

“It stands for inclusiveness, it stands for opportunities, it stands for smiles,” said Vigneux. “You can come here in the worst mood and you’re guaranteed to walk away with the biggest smile. It helps us realize no matter who you are, whether you have small or big challenges, you can do almost anything, and you can make a difference in the lives of a whole bunch of people.”

Vigneux also acknowledged how important the help of volunteers is to the league’s success. On any given week, it can take anywhere from 100-200 volunteers.

Andrea Gunby crosses home plate during the first week of the 2018 fall season Sept. 8.

“Some of the buddies need one-on-one support while others need a couple people to support them. The league also needs announcers, pitchers, umpires, a barbecue crew, a set up and take down crew, and people around to cheer and coordinate the volunteers,” said Vigneux.

Anyone interested in volunteering can check out the Miracle League of Amherstburg’s website at www.amherstburgmiracle.com. People can also call 519-919-4641 if they are interested in volunteering.

Miracle League golf tournament brings in 135 golfers

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Miracle League of Amherstburg presented its ninth annual golf tournament last Saturday and organizers are pleased with the results.

The tournament was held at Sutton Creek Golf Club with Miracle League board member and tournament organizing committee member Michele Vigneux noting that there were approximately 135 golfers.

“In our estimation, it’s really good support,” said Vigneux. “I think we only had two open teams left.”

Vigneux said the public understands that Miracle League is something worthwhile to support.

Katelyn Elder, Rachele McCandless and Diane Patterson were three of the many volunteers that helped out with the Miracle League’s golf tournament.

“I think people know it’s a good cause,” she said. “People know every cent we earn goes to the athletes and we’re really trying to do big things for the athletes.”

Golfers also know that the Miracle League tournament is a good one, Vigneux added, stating as many as seven trips were raffled off as part of last Saturday’s event.

Proceeds will go towards the new wheelchair swing, located as part of the accessible playground at the Libro Centre. That playground is situated next to the Miracle League baseball diamond.

“A big chunk of the money will go to finishing off the swing,” said Vigneux.

Other costs associated with the swing include brickwork and fencing, she said.

The Miracle League of Amherstburg is also sending four local athletes to the Miracle League all-star game in Findlay, Ohio in September, she added. A portion of the proceeds will be used to cover their costs.

The Miracle League is thankful for the corporate sponsors and donations they receive. This year’s golf tournament ambassador was Julien Miron, who plays on the Thunder team.

“I love Miracle League! It gives me the chance to play baseball!” exclaimed Julien, at the post-tournament dinner.

Julien said he sees a lot of friends and makes new ones thanks to Miracle League. His mother Louanne Miron also spoke highly of the Miracle League.

Joe Barichello, Gord Ross, Dale Kryway and Jeremy D’Alimonte were one of the foursomes in the Aug. 18 golf tournament that benefitted the Miracle League of Amherstburg.

Louanne said the players that are enrolled in the Miracle League of Amherstburg can enjoy baseball as well.

“They are differently abled,” she said. “They can do everything we can do. They can play baseball and play very well.”

Louanne added that the volunteers who put Miracle League on for eight weeks in the spring and eight weeks in the fall sacrifice their Saturdays to make it happen.

“All of these things are possible because of the people surrounding this league,” she said.

The tenth annual Miracle League golf tournament is scheduled for Aug. 17, 2019.

 

Town council refuses Woofa-Roo signage request, to look into programmable signage

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Woofa-Roo Pet Festival will have to seek other ways of promoting its event after town council nixed a signage request at the April 23 meeting.

Lorene Clayton, festival director, asked council if the Woofa-Roo Pet Festival could share the Miracle League of Amherstburg sign along Front Road North. She said she was willing to have other festivals share the sign posts as well, not just her event.

“I would like to use the sign every year for one month prior to the festival,” Clayton requested. “I’d like to open it up for other festivals and special events.”

Clayton said she used to use the sign in front of Duffy’s Tavern and Motor Inn, but with that gone as part of the demolition of the site, she needs to use other options. Lawn signs are used, but Clayton said she understands the need to limit signage within Amherstburg.

Noting she has only two weeks to use lawn signs in Amherstburg, Clayton said that presents difficulty in advertising her event.

Additional signage to be affixed to the Miracle League sign on Front Road North was the subject of debate at the most recent town council meeting. The town is exploring programmable signage.

Asked whether she had permission from the Miracle League to erect the signs, Clayton said “they have no objections” to the plan. However, manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli told town council she was in receipt of a letter from the Miracle League requesting no additional signage be attached. That also meant a request from the Rotary Club of Amherstburg was denied later in the meeting.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said the Miracle League sign was not paid for by the town and noted there would be “a number of competing interests” if town council were to allow others to post on the same sign posts.

“It would be very difficult to co-ordinate that,” said Galvin.

Clayton disagreed, believing it would be no different than the banners that hang over Sandwich St. S. that are booked on a first come, first served basis.

CAO John Miceli suggested the town consider programmable signage at the north and south entrances to the municipality. He believed the town should be proactive as it pertains to promoting tourism and special events.

“It will be done tastefully. It will be programmed to a municipal standard,” said Miceli.

Council will receive a report on the matter with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo trying to console Clayton by stating that while her request wasn’t granted, her delegation did spark further investigation into the signage matter.

The Woofa-Roo Pet Festival will be held at the Libro Centre this year on July 21-22.

Miracle League of Amherstburg returns with its spring season

 

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Athletes with the Miracle League of Amherstburg got to play ball last Saturday.

The Miracle League’s spring season got underway at the Miracle diamond located at the Libro Centre. Michele Vigneux, one of the Miracle League’s board members and its publicity director, said they have a large enrolment of players this year as 158 people have signed up.

The league, as it always has done, as featured players of a variety of ages from all around Windsor-Essex County and not just Amherstburg.

Abbi-Lynne Dufour clowns around with Hunter, the Miracle League mascot, during the league’s first day of the 2018 spring season May 5.

“That’s our highest number so far,” Vigneux said of the enrolment figure.

The Miracle League of Amherstburg features nine teams, with four games throughout the day. One game sees three teams rotate between batting and fielding to try and get all athletes with a disability the chance to play baseball.

Kyle Jones takes a swing at a pitch.

Vigneux said this is a milestone year for the Miracle League of Amherstburg, as it turns 10-year-old in September. She added there are still families finding out there is a Miracle League in operation in Amherstburg.

“We’re happy to be still going strong,” she said.

Gerald Lemire connects with a pitch during the opening day of the Miracle League spring season May 5.

The Miracle League of Amherstburg does need volunteers for the next seven weeks of the spring season. Vigneux said groups and businesses are welcome to come out and help as are individuals. She pointed out it is a great way for high school students to get their required 40 hours of volunteer service.

To volunteer, contact Janet at janetmlabuddyteam@gmail.com, Danielle at danielltmlabuddyteam@gmail.com, visit www.amherstburgmiracle.com or call 519-919-4641.

It is the first Miracle League in Canada and came to town with the aid of the Rotary Club of Amherstburg.

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.