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Published: Monday, 5/4/2009

Racers raise cash for project

BY KIRK BAIRD
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Zach Brinkman looked at his friend Eddie Keaveny moments before the two crossed the finish line yesterday morning at the inaugural Miracle League of Northwest Ohio's 5K Run/2K walk at Swan Creek Preserve.

The two have known each other since high school, where they ran together. There was no competition then, and it didn't seem right that there should be competition now.

So Mr. Brinkman, 24, of Toledo, suggested to Mr. Keaveny that they cross the finish line together, hand in hand.

"It was a spur-of-the-moment thing," Mr. Brinkman said.

Mr. Brinkman was awarded first place and Mr. Keaveny second place, but the real winner in the race, Mr. Brinkman said, was what they were running for: the Miracle League of Northwest Ohio's barrier-free baseball field at Brentwood Park, which is scheduled to open May 31.

Scott Young congratulates his daughter Schyler after she finishes the race. About 230 people participated in the event. Scott Young congratulates his daughter Schyler after she finishes the race. About 230 people participated in the event.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

About 230 participants paid from $20 to $55 to be part of the event, which raised nearly $4,000 for the league's barrier-free baseball field.

"I just like helping out organi-zations," Mr. Brinkman said.

"Them helping kids play baseball is a really good thing. It's only $25 to me, but it's a lot to them."


Abby Gase of Bowling Green has her eyes on the finish line as her father, Bill Gase, follows with her wheelchair during the fund-raiser at Swan Creek. Abby Gase of Bowling Green has her eyes on the finish line as her father, Bill Gase, follows with her wheelchair during the fund-raiser at Swan Creek.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Jeff Barton, Miracle League of Northwest Ohio founder and president, was pleased at the fund-raiser's success.

"Our goal was to raise $3,000 and have about 100 to 150 people [participate], so we exceeded that," Mr. Barton said.

So far the league has raised $180,000 of the $350,000 cost to build the field, with the remaining $170,000 necessary funding coming from in-kind

service donations.

Mr. Burton said phase one of the three-phase construction plan is nearly complete, and that more fund-raising efforts will be needed to finance the additional phases.

"We plan to get to phase two when we can," Mr. Barton said. "Our goal is to go as we can and not overtax ourselves."

The Miracle League was formed in 1998 in the Atlanta area to provide opportunities for all children to play baseball.

A Miracle League baseball field has a cushioned, rubberized turf, wheelchair-accessible dugouts, and flat surface to eliminate any barriers to players who use wheelchairs or have impaired vision.

Contact Kirk Baird at

kbaird@theblade.com

or 419-724-6734.



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