UNION COUNTY — One local 14-year-old has used money he received for his birthday to contribute to a local non-profit organization which is close to his heart.
Chandler Austin is a player with The Miracle League of Union County, and his mother, Amy Austin, is the president of the organization. Chandler decided to use his birthday money this year to donate to the MLUC by purchasing a brick with his name on it for The MLUC All-Inclusive Playground to be constructed at Timken Sports complex.
The MLUC recently received a sizeable donation from the Timken Foundation for the project, and half of the donation depends upon the MLUC locally raising enough funds to match it.
The Timken Foundation of Canton reviewed a request from The Miracle League of Union County (MLUC) for $150,000 to be used for the construction of an all-inclusive playground at Timken Sports Complex. Timken Foundation trustees approved a grant of $150,000 which includes a matching contingency — with a $75,000 donation scheduled for payment in August and an additional $75,000 to be paid by the foundation if matching funds are raised by the MLUC by the end of August.
“We are especially grateful to The Timken Foundation of Canton, Ohio who supported us through grant funding for our ball field in 2014 and had the faith in us to make this next dream a reality as well,” Austin said. “It is evident that their board sees what a wonderful, supportive community we have here and that lives are definitely being changed for the better through Miracle League.”
The Miracle League of Union County Facebook page stated, “2016 is going to be a year of possibility for Union County, bringing a shift in perspective in our small community.”
The MLUC said play and recreation will be possible for everyone — children and adults with disabilities or diseases like multiple sclerosis, older adults with physical challenges, veterans who come home with an injury, even children with Autism.
“Our inclusive playground will show that everyone has value, teaching children and adults that everyone can be together,” the page stated.
“We will see a child in a wheelchair having fun. We will see a daddy who is a Wounded Warrior, interact and join his child on a playground instead of watching her from a distance. We will see siblings, one with a physical disability and one without, play side by side like they’ve never been able to do before on a regular playground. Seeing what CAN be done will change our perception of people with disabilities. Instead of feeling pity, we will understand.”
The MLUC page also pointed out that ADA compliance and being truly inclusive are different.
“Accessible means you can get there. It means you may be able to use parts of a playground. An inclusive playground is for everyone, and this type of playground is a benefit to the entire community. Being a community with an inclusive playground means we are fair, included, smart, independent, safe, active and comfortable.”
Those who would like a brick on the playground walkway for a donation of $100 may call (864) 466-7879, contact a board member, or visit The Miracle League of Union County Facebook page or website at www.themiracleleagueofunioncounty.org.
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4128 or email@example.com.