As the Rotary Club of Lexington was brainstorming a centennial project ten years ago, club member Kevin Weaver saw a segment on the Miracle League in Conyers, Georgia. Members of the Rotary Club knew they could bring this initiative to Lexington and make an enduring impact in the community.
Fast forward a decade later, and the Toyota Bluegrass Miracle League is set to celebrate its 10th anniversary in Kentucky at its all-accessible field in Shillito Park on Saturday, July 23. This event will feature the league’s annual All-Star Game, as well as a game between alumni members, showcasing some of the thousands of people the initiative has served over the years.
Melissa Gash is head coach of the Cardinals youth team and has worked with the league since its beginning in 2006. Gash described herself as a “selfish 20-year-old” when she first began volunteering, but in the decade since has changed because of everything that working with the league has taught her.
“The more I stuck around, the more I became attached to them, and it completely changed my world. I found out what really mattered in life,” Gash said. “I think I’ve really grown into the person I am today because of the Miracle League and what they have taught me.”
Gash said her hope for the 10th anniversary event is that league members will have the same opportunities as other kids and adults to excel at the sport they love. “These are kids who just want to play ball, just like kids in every other league in the state of Kentucky,” Gash said.
One of those players is Jacob Mason, who began playing for the Miracle League during its inaugural season and will participate in the 10th anniversary game, where he will play alongside some of the many friends he has made over the years. “The Miracle league allowed me to be part of a team,” Mason said. “I made more real friends that way too.”
Mason said the league, which serves about 160 kids and adults each season, is good for the community because it promotes inclusivity and friendship between players. “It gives new opportunities to people who just want to be able to play a sport that they love,” Mason said.
The day-to-day operations of the league are managed by the YMCA of Central Kentucky, in partnership with the league’s board of directors and Lexington Rotary Club. The Y, a leader in youth sports, provides coordination of services, including registration, game assignments, team and volunteer coordination.
For more information on the Toyota Bluegrass Miracle League’s 10th Anniversary and All Star game, go to the facebook event page.