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(Posted 12:30 p.m., Nov. 28)
Groundbreaking ceremony held for Miracle League of Ottawa Field
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Bryce Desrochers is joined by his father Rolly and Mayor Jim Watson for the groundbreaking for the future Miracle League of Ottawa Field in Orléans. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Ottawa is one step, and several shovels full of dirt, closer to having its very own field of dreams.

When it's completed sometime next summer, the Miracle League Field currently under construction behind the Notre-Dame-des-Champs Community Centre on Navan Road will combine a safe and accessible baseball diamond with a playground for children with special needs.

“The City of Ottawa and the Miracle League are working together to make this dream come true,” Mayor Jim Watson said at the official groundbreaking ceremony on Friday. “The real miracles will take place next summer when children with special needs will finally round the bases of a ball diamond built especially for them.”

The facility is the dream of 12-year-old east end resident Bryce Desrochers and his parents Rolly and Michelle. Bryce was born with cerebral palsy, but he would like to play sports like any other child.

The dream was first hatched a little over a year ago when the Desroches first met with Miracle League of Ottawa president David Gourlay who also happens to own the Ottawa Champions baseball franchise. He then approached Orleans city councillor Bob Monette who teamed up with fellow east end councillor Rainer Bloess to bring the city on board.

The Rotary Club of Orléans then took the project on as a fundraising initiative, and from there it took flight. Before too long the money started rolling in, first as a trickle and soon after in a flood. By September they had raised over $600.000 thanks to several large donations from the JaysCare Foundation and Kraft. Other donations came from Telus, Pathway Hyundai, The Friends of Mer Bleue and the Rotary Clubs of Orleans, Ottawa and Ottawa South.

Two additional donations announced during today's groundbreaking ceremony from the Tunis Shriners ($12,000) and the Malhotra Family ($150,000) has increased the total donations to over $700,000. With the city agreeing to match the funds raised dollar for dollar, the grand total is over $1.4 million.

Rolly Desrochers still can't believe how far they have come in just one year.

"It all started a year ago with two parents asking themselves, 'How in the world are we ever going to pull this off?' Then we met David and he got on board and we met with the Rotary Club and they got on board and it started to gain traction. And then we met with Bob and Rainer and it gained even more traction until here we are."

No one at Friday's groundbreaking ceremony had a bigger smile than Bryce, the young man whose dream is beginning to take shape.

"This is really all about Bryce and so many other kids in the community who just want to play baseball like other kids," said Watson. "There are 4,000 special needs kids in Ottawa who will be able to come here and spend a few hours. It's like that movie, if you build it, they will come."

"Bryce has already said that I will be able to come back to throw the first pitch once it's completed and he's going to hit the first ball."

 

 

The figure now stands at $1.4 million.

The Miracle League has partnered with the Ottawa Children's Treatment Centre, which will use the field and playground for rehabilitation and programming for more than 4,000 children in the nation's capital who have physical or mental disabilities.

“Our motto at the Miracle League of Ottawa is that every child deserves to play the game of baseball,” said David Gourlay President of the Miracle League of Ottawa. “We are inspired by Bryce who reminds us always that if you say your dreams out loud, they usually come true. With the help of partners in Ottawa and across the country, we’re going to make his dream a reality.”

The City is making the land available to the Miracle League and will cover up to 50 per cent of the estimated $1.6 million cost of the project.

To date the Miracle League of Ottawa has secured pledges of $1.4 million, including pledges made at today’s groundbreaking of $150,000 and $12,000 by the Malhotra Family Foundation and Tunis Shriners respectively.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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