CHERRY HILL, NJ - It's more than just baseball.
That's the motto of the Camden County NJ Miracle League, a league for individuals ages 5 and up living with mental and physical disabilities.
"It’s about forming bonds with the players," says Joe Levin, a volunteer of the Miracle League. "The baseball part is just to draw people here. But the main idea of Miracle League is to get people with disabilities and give them friends, and give them a reason to come out every week. And have them pursue their passion of baseball, which is a plus."
Each player on the league is paired with a volunteer, or Buddy, that assists him or her during the entire game. The games consist of three innings, during which every player has a chance to bat, and players have a number of chances before hitting off a tee. No player is ever struck out, and both teams win each game. The field they play on, known as Boundless Field, is a barrier-free field specifically equipped for wheelchairs and other walking devices.
Levin along with his friend Holly Seybold, both juniors at Cherry Hill High School East began volunteering for the league last year. They enjoyed it so much that they initiated a club at their high school for other students to get involved. Levin and Seybold were pleasantly surprised when 80 to 90 students showed up for the first meeting.
"When we first started we thought we would get maybe 25, 30 people." says Joe. "We held our first meeting and people were spilling out into the hallway. We had to tell them they could only come to two games each. It's been awesome."
"They all help each other," says Ronnie Coll, the mother of one of the league's adult players, Kim Coll. Kim, who is 52 years old, lives with vascular Elhers-Danlos syndrome, which affects her speech among other functions. "They learn sportsmanship. If there is somebody who is too little to walk, Kimmy teaches them how to throw, how to walk. They all do that for each other. They run with the kids with the wheelchairs. It breaks your heart, but it's so wonderful that they are doing this."
The league meets each Saturday from mid-April to mid-June at the Boundless Field at Build Jake's Place in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The league just wrapped up it's final game of the spring season on Saturday.
Catch a more in-depth look at The Miracle League and Build Jake's Place on "In Focus" with Jennifer Lewis-Hall this Saturday June 18at 6:30am and 11:30am.
BY: Lauren Berman/PHL17 News