For five years, the Miracle League of Newton County has been a simulcast host site for Chick-fil-A’s Leadercast, not only showing the event live, but also using it as a fundraiser, receiving proceeds from ticket sales.
This year, the venue shifted from the Turner Lake Park Complex to the Church of Covington allowing for a larger attendance, and the local Miracle League’s biggest take-away yet with $6,200. While the larger funds were great for the local organization’s plan to open the $2 million baseball field and playground complex at City Pond Park, they were nothing compared to the surprise everyone associated with the Miracle League received while telecasting the event May 10.
After a presentation video, a Chick-fil-A, Inc. representative presented Miracle League consultant Tamara Richardson and the Newton County Miracle League a check for $20,000.
"It was just unbelievable," said Kristi Ogletree of the local Chick-fil-A. "We’re partnering with this great group, and we’re just so excited to see this in the community, and we want to be as much a part of it as we can."
Chris Giella, owner of the Chick-fil-A on Ga. Highway 138, informed the corporate office of the Miracle League project, after working with them for the previous four years. Knowing the project as well as he does, Giella had one request for the $20,000, which will be given out annually to organizations nationwide from now on to use it for the playground.
Special-needs playgrounds can run up a hefty bill, with specialized equipment for sensory learning, special surfaces and more interactive experiences, some of the things that will be offered at City Pond starting, it is hoped, in spring of 2014.
"There will be a lot of sensory stuff, touchy-feely stuff, a quiet dome for autistic children and roller tables for children with no leg mobility to move across with their arms," Richardson said. "It will be both for special needs and able-body youth. They will be playing side by side."
Richardson said the $20,000 will go toward some playground equipment for the site.
The Miracle League, which also received a donation of $2,300 from Leadership Newton County, will be using $175,000 of privately-donated funds toward the playground.
The $2 million in SPLOST funding will be used for the rest of the complex, with concession stands and office space already under construction and two fields, being built by inmate labor, scheduled to be completed by April 2014.