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(Posted 7 a.m., Aug. 15)
Baseball diamond's opening proof miracles really can happen

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Bryce Desrochers gets a little help from his dad Rollie as he takes the plate during the official opening of the Miracle League of Ottawa baseball diamond on Friday. Photo supplied

The dream of building a baseball facility for children with special needs became a reality on Friday with the official opening of the Miracle League of Ottawa baseball diamond in Notre-Dame-des-Champs.

And no one could be happier than the children who got to hit the ball and round the bases for the first time, led by Bryce Desrochers who provided the original inspiration behind the project.

Bryce was born with cerebral palsy which confines him to a wheelchair. His physical condition did little to abate his love of baseball, fueled by his passion for his beloved Blue Jays.
When Bryce was in Grade 6, his parents, Rollie and Michelle, learned about the Miracle League which has over 250 chapters in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Australia.

At the time, the only Miracle League facility in Canada was located in Amherstberg. Buoyed by little more than an 11-year-old’s dream, the Desrochers approached the Rotary Club of Orléans and the Ottawa Champions Baseball Club. Both organizations eagerly got behind the project which immediately picked up steam.

Orléans Coun. Bob Monette was one of the first local politicians to support the project. He was joined by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, fellow councillor Mathieu Fleury, Ottawa-Orléans MPP Marie-France Lalonde and Ottawa-Orléans MP Royal Galipeau and .

Corporate and local community support soon followed from Progressive Waste Solutions, Friends of the Mer Bleue and Pathway Hyundai, to name just a few of the project’s financial backers. Key support was also provided by the City of Ottawa, the Jays Care Foundation, and the Rotary Club.

Nearly $1 million was raised in less than two years, which is a miracle in itself. But for the project to go from concept to reality in just three years is the real miracle.

According to Miracle League of Ottawa president David Gourlay, there are more than 4,000 children in Ottawa with physical disabilities. Having a place to play baseball is a godsend to both the kids and their parents.

During Friday’s opening ceremony, Rolly Desrochers could hardly hold back his pride in seeing his son’s dream come to fruition.

“Bryce, you said if you say your dreams out loud, they can come true,” Rolly said. “Here you have it son. We did it.”

Following the official ribbon cutting ceremony Bryce got to hit the first pitch assisted by his father and cheered on by former Blue Jay Duane Ward.

“To be the first one to hit that ball, it just felt really good. It feels really awesome,” Bryce said after rounding the bases in his motorized wheelchair.

Judging by the sheer delight expressed by the kids who took part in Friday’s grand opening, the Miracle League field will provide special moments and memories a hundred times over and all because of the dream of one small boy and the parents who were determined to make it happen.

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

 

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