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Stars align in Newton: County plans to host Miracle League's 2024 National All-Star Weekend
Miracle League
Miracle League Association is a nonprofit organization that provides an opportunity for athletes with special needs to play baseball. (Special | Miracle League of Newton County)

COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County could play host to the 2024 National Miracle League All-Star Weekend.

The Miracle League Association is a nonprofit organization that provides an opportunity for athletes with special needs to play baseball. The league was founded in the late 1990s in Conyers.

Newton Parks & Recreation Director Dwayne Mask and others affiliated with Newton County’s Miracle League club spoke to the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Jan. 18, seeking their blessing and support to play host to a future National Miracle League All-Stars Weekend.

Mask told commissioners the Miracle League started an All-Stars event about seven years ago. Newton County was being considered as a potential host in October 2024.

Olivia Miller, who is a certified therapeutic recreation specialist and coordinates the Newton County Miracle League club, said the All-Star event would be a three-day event. On Friday, the more than 100 athletes and their families would arrive to town and begin festivities with a meet-and-greet event. Saturday would essentially be game day, as league contests would be played all day. Saturday night would feature a gala for the athletes and families. Sunday would be when Newton County’s Miracle League games would be played, and then an awards ceremony would be held to close out the weekend.

Between athletes, their families, coaches and league administrators, Miller said approximately 500 total people would be expected for the All-Star weekend, including some from other countries. Today, there are more than 300 Miracle League clubs across the nation, including Puerto Rico, and even a few in Canada and Mexico. These clubs serve over 200,000 children and adults.

Last year’s All-Star game was held Nov. 5-7 in Houston, Texas.

If held in Newton County in 2024, Miller said the county’s Miracle League club would be responsible for covering all expenses — from lodging to transportation to food — for the entire weekend.

“These families, due to some of the disabilities that their children may have, don’t really get an opportunity to take a lot of vacations, so this is like a vacation for them,” Miller said. “They come and they don’t have to worry about anything because we’ve taken care of everything.”

Mike Hopkins, who serves as chairman of the Friends of the Miracle League Committee, said the opportunity to host the event was something he hoped the entire community could support.

“We are fully committed behind this,” Hopkins said. “So… we’re not just coming in here asking you to help us; we’re going to have the support of the whole community. Our board of directors are committed to following through and making sure that this is the best event ever. And, certainly, it will be a great showcase and be a good way for our community to get national recognition, so we’re really excited.”

Hopkins further opened up to the board and spoke about the Miracle League experience that he and his three special needs children have grown to love.

“If you ever want to have some real inspiration and excitement, come out and be a part of that experience,” he said. “These kids get so excited, and it just really makes their year.

“As a father, I appreciate what the county has done in constructing the field here in Newton County and its an awesome complex … We’ve got a top-notch facility, and I think part of the All-Star experience will allow us to enhance that and make it even better for our community.”

Newton County opened its Miracle League Complex at City Pond Park in Covington in 2015.

Despite no official action taken by the board of commissioners, Banes voiced his full support of hosting the All-Star Weekend and urged commissioners to also support it.

A letter of intent was the first step of the process. Mask said he and others would be getting back in front of the Board of Commissioners as plans continued to progressed. Mask said the biggest need would be volunteers and funding. It would cost approximately $150,000 to host the All-Star Weekend, he said, but one donation had already been received.

“There’s not anything in it for the Parks & Recreation Department or the Miracle League Board,” Mask said. “But I do think it’s something big for the community to come together and really show these families a lot of love.” 

During its Jan. 3 meeting, the Covington City Council unanimously approved authorization for Mayor Steve Horton to sign a letter of intent in support of hosting the game in October 2024.