Knights help with Miracle League

Posted on 11 April 2019 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Highlands Christian Academy’s baseball team loaded up in their bus and made the 35-minute drive up to the Miracle League of Palm Beach County’s “field of dreams.”

Along the way, they played games, built on some team bonding, but when they arrived at Miller Park in Delray Beach, they were consumed with helping others.

The Miracle League, a baseball league for special needs athletes, gives its participants an opportunity to play the sport with others. Its players hail from Wellington, Jupiter, Port St. Lucie, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Coral Springs, Ft. Lauderdale, Parkland, and Boca Raton.

Julia and her husband Jeff incorporated the league in 2005 and used the Bucky Dent Baseball School infield from 2007 to 2010 until they started to play their games on their own field.

The Kadels, through grassroots efforts and public and private donations and monies, raised $550,000 to build a handicapped-accessible field complete with recycled rubber and ramps for wheelchairs. They opened a handicapped-accessible playground and recently raised nearly $100,000 to resurface the field this summer as 250 people turned out for the Dinner on the Diamond event.

There are six teams in the league this year with about 16 players on each and a cheerleading squad with seven members. There are also about 160 buddies. Garrich Phelipa, a senior pitcher/1st baseman for the Knights, enjoyed his time.

“This is fun,” said Phelipa, 17, of Pompano Beach. “It’s great. The children like it. This is my first time doing anything like this. It makes it fun for the team because we get to be together and do a good thing.”

Teammate Isaac Dominguez, 17, a sophomore catcher/infielder, of Pompano Beach agreed: “This is awesome. It gets you thinking as to how privileged you really are and being able to do things by yourself.

Anytime you get a chance to help the kids that are in need, it is an awesome time. It just gives a good feeling to your heart just to help people that need it.”

“The team had a fun time coming over here on the bus,” Dominguez added. “We played a game on the bus where we named MLB players and now that we are at the field, we are just having fun with the kids and enjoying our time together.”

Knights head coach Bruce Charlebois said it was an eye-opener for his players.

“We sometimes think that we are coming to these things to bless others and serve the Lord and we are the ones that continuously get blessed,” Charlebois said. “We have a heart for special needs. My mother was very involved in the Special Olympics. I have had a couple of special needs clinics at my field and I just feel it does a world of good for the world.

“Nowadays these kids are kind of stuck in their technology and a lot of them are really in their own world,” Charlebois continued. “They struggle with communication skills and the things that happen when we come out here change their life. We would like to think permanently, not short term, and they start to appreciate life and what they have. I think it is a great thing for everybody involved.”

This is the first time that Highlands Christian helped the Miracle League as a team and Charlebois said they were excited about the opportunity.

José Dennis Martínez Ortiz, nicknamed “El Presidente” a four-time major league all-star was on hand to pitch at the opener.

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