Michele Vigneux

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.

 

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.

Miracle League returns for 2016 spring season

 

 

What would a day at Miracle League be without the YMCA dance? The players and mascots enjoy it during the first game of the day last Saturday.

What would a day at Miracle League be without the YMCA dance? The players and mascots enjoy it during the first game of the day last Saturday.

By Ron Giofu

 

Spring has finally arrived and the Miracle League of Amherstburg has returned with it.

The spring season of Miracle League got underway last Saturday at their diamond at the Libro Centre with nine teams playing four games – three teams combined to play one game due to the uneven number of teams – during the day-long event.

Miracle League publicity director Michele Vigneux said the Miracle League is up to 150 players with several more on a waiting list.

Abbi-Lynne Dufour heads for home as Hunter the Miracle League Mascot cheers her on.

Abbi-Lynne Dufour heads for home as Hunter the Miracle League Mascot cheers her on.

“We continue to get more players,” she said. “We may have to look at expanding but now we can accommodate players on nine teams.”

Many of the players are returning from past seasons, she added, though there are a number of new players as well.

“We’re always happy to have new players,” said Vigneux, noting they also get to experience the opportunity to play baseball.

The engagement of Samantha Kellam and Essex-Windsor EMS paramedic Chris Jaber was also announced at Miracle League. Essex-Windsor EMS provides medical services for Miracle League.

The engagement of Samantha Kellam and Essex-Windsor EMS paramedic Chris Jaber was also announced at Miracle League. Essex-Windsor EMS provides medical services for Miracle League.

Vigneux added that people keep finding out about Miracle League and the interest from new people is ongoing.

The Miracle League is also hoping to maintain support from sponsors and volunteers, as more are welcome. Vigneux stated they had to increase the cost to play this year so they are looking to gain more sponsors and donors in order to keep costs as low as possible.

Bryan Dzombak keeps his eye on a pitch.

Bryan Dzombak keeps his eye on a pitch.

Businesses can also volunteer as staff members are welcome to attend and help out on a Saturday. Vigneux said companies can sign up through the Miracle League’s website, which is www.amherstburgmiracle.com.

Volunteers are always welcome, she added, noting that it is a great way for students to get their volunteer hours needed for graduation.

“It’s a great way to get community hours and have fun at the same time,” said Vigneux.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo throws out the first pitch before one of the Miracle League's four games May 7.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo throws out the first pitch before one of the Miracle League’s four games May 7.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo threw out the first pitch and welcomed players back for the 2016 spring season. DiCarlo called Miracle League one of the greatest events in Amherstburg and credited the players and volunteers for making it happen.

“The atmosphere created by the volunteers and the joy from the players is contagious,” he said.