MIRACLES, albeit rare, do occur.
On May 18, one will come into fulfillment in Wheeling.
That is the day when years of planning, fundraising, teamwork and dogged determination spawns the opening of the Miracle Field. On that long-awaited day, weather permitting, the first game will be played at the Chambers Youth Sports Complex in Elm Grove.
The game and field are the culmination of a feel-good story five years in the scripting. It was the brainchild of Lorraine McCardle, sparked by her son Austin's desire to play football.
Austin, however, is afflicted by a nervous system ailment that restricts him to leg braces. Thus, football is an impossibility for Austin and countless other sports-hungry youngsters.
Lorraine, to her credit, did her homework and discovered an athletic outlet for her son. That being the Miracle League. She had to overcome another roadblock, that being the closest leagues were in Pittsburgh, Morgantown and Zanesville.
Lorraine tackled the lengthy travel problems by partnering with the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center to launch a fund-raising drive for a local field. The center was a willing partner as it is where Austin rehabs.
Miracle fields don't come cheaply. But the Ohio Valley is deep-rooted in generosity, and five years later $1 million has been raised to make the field a reality.
A major player in the funding campaign was the Pirates Charities. The philanthropic arm of the Pittsburgh Pirates has donated more than $500,000 to Miracle Field projects, including the one in Wheeling. Such charitable giving is a grand slam in its own right.
More needs to be done as a paved parking lot is the final piece of the puzzle. enabling for smooth and safe travel for the wheelchair athletes. An anonymous donor has contributed $50,000 to the proposed paving with the stipulation it must be matched by the Miracle League.
Lorraine's passionate crusade, enjoined by an army of loyal and compassionate soldiers, has come all too far for $50,000 to stand in the way of a state-of-the-art facility.
We commend Lorraine, Easter Seals and all those who have helped make the dreams of a Miracle Field in Wheeling come to fruition.
Now we challenge all those possible to step up to the plate and make the paving project the icing on a most special cake.