UNION — A $60,000 challenge to the people of Union County is being answered by the Union Civitan Club and the owner of Nicholson Mansion.
In October, the Timken Family Foundation of Canton, Ohio, awarded a $25,000 grant to the Miracle League of Union County. The league will use the grant to help finance the modification of Field No. 1 at the Timken Sports Complex to make it a low-impact surface which will allow special needs children and adults to play baseball. The modification is projected to cost $250,000.
The grant also came with a challenge to the people of Union County to raise another $60,000 for the league by Aug. 13, 2013. If the funds are raised by that time, the foundation will match them with another $60,000.
Since then, the league has taken up the challenge and has raised $20,000, a figure that will grow this weekend when another group that has taken up the challenge, the Union Civitan Club, holds its second annual “Christmas at the Mansion” fundraiser on behalf of the league.
“Our main goal is to help the community in any way we can, but our passion is the special needs individuals,” Sherri Williams, club president, said Thursday. “We’re involved with Union Services and we help out with DSN (Department of Special Needs) which is part of Union Services. Also, my stepson Justin is a Miracle League player.”
Christmas at the Mansion will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday at Nicholson Mansion which Williams said is owned by Civitan Lynn Mornane. She said it was Mornane who first suggested holding a fundraiser for the league at her home.
“We had our first Christmas at the Mansion last year for the Miracle League,” Williams said. “Lynn Mornane, the owner, is a Civitan and she came up with the idea and offered us her mansion.”
Tickets to the event — which are available at the Union County Recreation Department and Little Angels Portrait Studio — are $10 per person. Williams said ticket holders will get lunch, a tour of the first floor of the mansion and their photos taken by Little Angels Portrait Studio with the photos placed on a CD on site. As an added treat, Williams said those who get their pictures taken have the option of having Frosty the Snowman pose with them and their families.
Williams said the funds raised from Saturday’s event will go toward helping the league raise the $60,000 challenge amount and secure the $60,000 match.
“Last year was the first year for the Civitans to help the Miracle League,” Williams said. “This year we have the chance to help the Miracle League make its dreams come true and give special needs individuals the chance to play baseball.
“In our Civitan Creed we have a saying, ‘My belief: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’” she said. “I feel that’s why we have to do this.”
Amy Austin, league executive president, is herself a Civitan and said she is quite familiar with the club and its activities on behalf of special needs individuals such as her son Chandler.
“I got involved with the Civitans back when my father, Bob Cato, was in the club, he invited me to come and I’ve been involved ever since,” Austin said. “I was a member of the club when my son Chandler was born and so I know about their commitment to the special needs population.
“I’m super excited that the Civitan Club has added the Miracle League as a special project,” she said. “Last year’s Christmas at the Mansion was a success and Civitan shared the proceeds with the Miracle League and the Foster Parent Association. We’re very thankful for what they did on behalf of the Miracle League last year and we urge everyone to come out and support this year’s Christmas at the Mansion. There are a lot of dedicated, hard-working members of Civitan and they always do whatever they can to help these causes.”
Also taking up the challenge is Tubozzzz, a Union restaurant which is donating 10 percent of this week’s sales to the effort.
The restaurant, located at 220 S. Gadberry St., is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In addition to the donations generated by the sales, restaurant manager Sheri Nash is donating all the tips she receives this week.
The restaurant’s efforts were inspired by an employee Jamie Bishop, a special needs individual who will get his first opportunity to play baseball when the field is modified.
Tubozzzz will present the proceeds from its fundraiser to the league this afternoon.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com