Few venues in the region are more pure or innocent than the Miracle League of Blair County, a place where central Pennsylvania's disabled people gather for recreational baseball.
Every Saturday during the spring and summer, children with special needs gather at this community treasure and, for an afternoon, become major league ballplayers.
Want to know how much of a smashing success the Miracle League has become?
Here's an indicator: The cushioned rubber playing surface at its field in the Eldorado section of Altoona wore out ahead of schedule because of the amount of use the facility has had since its opening in 2007.
In order to maintain - and build on - the important role the Miracle League has played in our community, the organization is badly in need of a capital improvement.
It may sound cliche, but everybody truly walks away a winner after spending time at the Miracle League. From the spectators and volunteers who are the recipient of the simplest, purest expressions of joy to the players who bat and score each inning, nobody who participates, volunteers or simply watches leaves unfulfilled.
Conditions of Miracle League ballplayers run the gamut. Many may be confined to wheelchairs, their arms and legs rendered immobile by muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy. Others may be dealing with Down syndrome or autism.
No matter. All are welcomed, donning their own uniform named after a Major League Baseball team.
The Miracle League depends largely on grants, donations and fundraisers to stay operational, and this year, we are proud to report that the organization will be the recipient of the Mirror's annual Season of Sharing program.
We seek your help and encourage you to support this great community project.
The Season of Sharing raises money and awareness for a community program each year.
More than $140,000 has been raised for seven programs since 2005. The Mirror teams with the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation to ensure every dollar donated is handled properly.
In this Season of Sharing, we ask you to open your hearts and wallets to support The Miracle League of Blair County. Information on how to give can be found on Page B6, and an addressed envelope is included in today's Mirror to make giving easier.
Each of us surely has been impacted in at least some way by a special needs child. Whether on the receiving end of an infectious smile or on the giving end of something that brightens a special needs child's day, the absolute innocence of those moments can warm even the Grinch's soul.
It is said that baseball is America's pastime, and during this holiday season, we hope you consider the joyous smiles of Miracle League participants as a holiday pastime worth supporting.