By Mac Slover
Ryan Wallace, youth player in the Miracle League of Alexandria, represented the city at the 2019 National Miracle League All-Star games in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 6 through 8. Wallace was one of 100 participants from across the United States and Mexico.
The Miracle League is a national program that was founded in 2000 and has grown to more than 300 teams. The Miracle League program allows both kids and adults with special needs to enjoy outdoor recreational opportunities and play baseball in the spring and fall each year. The Alexandria program began in the spring of 2011, with Kelley Cares Miracle Field being completed in November 2012.
The all-star participants at the national tournament were nominated to play by their Miracle League chapters. Wallace attended with his mother, Jenebah Moore; his brother, Franklin Wallace; and the Miracle League of Alexandria coordinator, Mac Slover.
When the Miracle League players arrived in Sioux City on Friday, they were greeted at the airport by a local high school cheerleading team with personalized signs. Later that day, participants attended a Taste of Sioux City kick-off event that included a kickball game, putt putt golf, special sensory zip lines, splash water pads, musical pads, food, music and more.
The baseball games, as well as a celebration gala and awards program, took place on Saturday. Each of the participants received an all-star uniform for the games, as well as gift bags, prizes, an all-star medal and an engraved bat at the gala.
Wallace’s team, the White Sox, played the opening game of the day at a packed field of spectators. Wallace and the other participants were introduced over the loud speakers while their pictures were displayed on the video scoreboard. The games featured play-by-play announcing and music.
“We had an awesome time,” Moore said. “I have learned from this experience that these children are so much more than their disabilities, and with a little help and support like we get in Alexandria, the sky is the limit for them.”
The Miracle League of Alexandria began its fall baseball season on Sept.14. Youth games are held on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and adult games are on Saturdays from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Kelley Cares Miracle League Field, located at 1108 Jefferson St. For information, visit www.miracleleagueallstargame.com.
The writer is volunteer program coordinator for the Miracle League of Alexandria and former longtime director of youth and adult sports programs with the Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities.