Friday, January 27, 2012

Progress Report: Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields

Karma is cool.

Sheila here. I'm not just saying that. I am seeing a wonderful example of it in the construction of the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields in Fairfield. Miracle League fields are special places where kids and adults with special needs get to step onto a field of dreams. Quite simply, they get to play baseball, many for the first time in their lives. Construction is finally underway after four years of fundraising and planning.

Bringing a Miracle League field to his old stomping grounds was one of the dreams of Reds legend Joe Nuxhall after he saw a feature story on ESPN. His son Kim and a lot of kind and generous people are making Joe's dream come true. I don't have to tell you what Joe Nuxhall meant to Cincinnati, Fairfield, and Hamilton. His character education program, scholarships for high school seniors, and other local efforts to help children? That's all good Karma.

I'm not sure if you know what Kim means to the folks up that way in Butler County, but I saw it firsthand last month, and I witnessed it again yesterday.
Kim, Joe, and Reds great Sean Casey put together a Joe Nuxhall Character Education program several years back to bring to local schools. Kim was a teacher in Fairfield schools and saw the need for it. Last month Katy Morgan and I joined Kim and some athletes and teachers at an "I Can" basketball game at Fairfield Intermediate School. I was really touched to see the way the kids reacted to Kim, even though he is no longer in the classroom every day. When he walks into a classroom or the gym, the students cheer for Kim like he's a rock star. I've never asked him about this, but I'm sure it's because they know he cares about them, and still stands up for them and inspires them. That's good Karma too.

Now the good Karma is coming full circle. Construction started on the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields at Hatton Park in Fairfield on December 28th. Since then water and storm sewer lines have been installed, the foundation for the building was poured along with footers for the patio and pavilion area, and the main electrical conduit for the building and parking lot lights are in. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we could be watching our first Miracle League game at the field by this July.

Katy and I got to attend an appreciation luncheon yesterday at Receptions in Fairfield, where Kim honored the people who are making his dad's dream come true. "The Mayor" Sean Casey was there to thank them too. Sean doesn't even live in Cincinnati any more, but he travels back here regularly to see the progress and help it along. Sean said something that really resonated with me: "You don't make a life by what you get. You make a life by what you give." Two young ladies with special needs also touched listeners with their letters to the giving people in the audience. Jesse Hutson and Karlee Thomas can't wait to play baseball, so they can forget about doctors and surgeries for a little while, and feel "normal" by taking part in America's pasttime. I can't wait to see them on that field.

The fundraising efforts and the work have reached two big milestones: One million dollars in monetary donations and one million dollars worth of "in kind" donations, from architectural and engineering designs to construction and electrical work. Not everyone can donate thousands. In face, one donor gave $2.47. Every little bit means the world to Kim and his family, and will make an impact on special kids. But I think it would please them so much to have thousands and thousands of local people "invested" in this great project. We all loved Joe, and what I love more is knowing how he will continue to touch so many thousands of kids and their families who just want to go out and enjoy a baseball game for a little while. You can find out more about the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields here:

And be sure to like the page on Facebook to watch the progress:

Here's a list which shows how all of the good Karma is not only paying off, but I believe creating even more. Maybe you can support these businesses and special people.
The Hatton Foundation donated $500,000 in a matching grant.
Other big donors include Mercy Hospital, Clemmons & Wolterman Law Office, Union Central Life Insurance, the Pfau Foundation, Butler County, and of course, the Nuxhall family. But the effort continues because an endowment is needed to ensure that the field can be maintained and used for years to come. The goal for that is $500,000, and every donation, no matter how big or small can make an impact.
Lots of companies, groups, and workers are helping by donating their services and equipment.
Bown Industries, LSI Lighting Industries, John R. Jurgensen, Ernst Concrete, Halcomb Concrete & Foundations, Dallis Homes, Bayer & Becker Engineers, DHA Architects, Magna Engineers, Lykins Oil, KoKosing, Enerfab, the City of Fairfield, the Fairfield Community Foundation, and local Ironworkers.
And an extra special shout out to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers #648. Some of them are unemployed right now, but they are all working hard on the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields. Their good Karma will inspire me for years to come.

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