When 16-year-old David Morgan of Hollidaysburg needed to develop an Eagle Scout project, he turned to a portion of the population near and dear to his heart.
"I worked with handicapped children in junior high school," David said, "so I knew I wanted do so something for the Miracle League."
Years of planning, fundraising and hard work came to fruition last summer when the Miracle League of Blair County opened its handicapped accessible diamond and its first season, giving all children the opportunity to play baseball.
The swing built by Hollidaysburg’s David Morgan has been a nice addition to the Altoona Miracle League playground.
David's project, a wheelchair swing, gives kids the chance to enjoy a popular playground attraction as well. But along the way David says he learned an important lesson: ''It was a simple project, but a lot of work.''
After his plans were approved by a board of review, David worked to secure donations, both cash and supplies. He also drummed up volunteers for the two-day construction project. The swing is made to weather the seasons: with a pressure treated wood frame, a platform of composite decking, rustproof equipment and stainless steel chains. The project was completed in time for the 2008 Miracle League season, which continues through Labor Day.
David even had some money left over. He presented a check for more than 18-hundred dollars, largely from his church congregation, to the Miracle League as well.
David remembers the first day he watched children use his wheelchair swing: "It was a good feeling,'' he said. "To see the first little boy on the swing and he was smiling. It was an overwhelming feeling of joy and happiness, knowing it was the first time he got to swing in his life.''
All of a sudden, this small project had big meaning.
The Miracle League is what sports should be all about. They emphasize the positive: participation, cooperation and community. There are no errors and no losers, just enthusiastic participants and grateful parents; open-hearted organizers, generous sponsors and amazing volunteers. The players' success measured not in runs or hits, but rather in smiles and high-five's. The project has been embraced by the local community and local corporations.
And now we see yet another benefit of this Field of Dreams: the inspiration to the next generation to continue their good work, creating opportunities and experiences for all of our area's children.
In this day and age where teenagers are glued to their computer games and it costs a fortune to fill your gas tank, people of all ages are still opening their hearts, and their wallets, reaching out to others.
David is proud to have done his part, and he received more than his Eagle Scout badge in the process. "The whole reason I got into scouting was family, for my Grandpa," he says. "To have him as my mentor and present me with the award was such an honor, so much pride that I got it done for him, and it was just great."
Kellie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column runs on Tuesdays.