Marshall County raising $1 million for regional disability-friendly park

MARSHALL COUNTY — Kane Powell’s favorite time of year is spring, because he gets to play at Mike Miller Park.

“He is so happy! As you see, he’s smiling all the time. He makes other people smile, and he’s just fun to be around,” said Samantha Powell, Kane’s mother.

Kane poses with his mother, who says his favorite way to get around is by crawling.

Kane is 4 years old, and he has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. He was diagnosed at 18 months old. His favorite place to be is on the baseball fields. His mom tried to sign him up for a child T-ball league last summer, but it didn’t work out.

“The limitations were more of us having to chase him around, making sure he didn’t get in the way of other kids in the ball,” Powell said. “And we really had to go at their pace to keep the pace of the game instead of going at Kane’s pace.”

A new, custom-designed, disability-accessible park could change that.

“I feel like so often we build facilities, and we build spaces, and we build things that are for the majority of the population, and then we just find ways to make it work for those who can’t do everything just like us,” Marshall County Parks Department Director Britney Heath said. “I feel like it’s time that we change that mentality.”

The Marshall County Parks Department is officially an affiliate of the Miracle League. The league removes barriers that keep children with mental and physical disabilities off the baseball field. Heath said Miracle League teams play on a custom-designed, rubberized turf field that accommodates wheelchairs and other assertive devices while helping to prevent injuries.

She wants to go one step further.

“We’re looking at custom-built sensory walls for children with autism and things like that, so its not just children with walkers,” Heath said.

It will also have a buddy system.

“Every child or adult who wants to play in this league is paired with an able-bodied volunteer, and that can be just a volunteer from the community, that could be a high school player, but everybody gets to have that relationship,” Heath said.

Adam Gore and Samantha Powell hold Kane at the Mike Miller Park.

Some of the closest Miracle Leagues are in Louisville and Lexington. This league will serve thousands in western Kentucky. The new Miracle League field is projected to be more then 40 acres.

“It’s going to be built for them from the ground up — every single aspect. We’re not gonna take facilities currently that we have and make it into a miracle field. We are doing this from the ground up,” Heath said.
It’s estimated to cost of $1 million, including the facilities and playground.

This is an opportunity Sam thought her son would never have.

“It’s something where we don’t have to adapt or adjust. It’s something made specifically for him and for families like us,” she said.

The first fundraiser is a dodge ball tournament on Saturday, June 8, at Mike Miller Park. All the proceeds will benefit the Miracle League field.

If you want to make a donation or to find out how you can be involved, contact Britney Heath at 270-527-5284 or parks@marshallcountyky.gov.

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