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01/27/2010 11:41 AM ET
Pirates Charities partners with Wheeling-based organizations to help bring first Miracle League Field to area
New field will allow special needs children to realize dream of playing baseball
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Pirates Charities, the philanthropic arm of the Pittsburgh Pirates, announced today that it will partner with a group of Wheeling-based organizations to help build the area's first Miracle League Field. As a result of Pirates Charities involvement, leadership from the Easter Seals, and local financial support from the Ogden Newspapers 20K Classic, the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley, as well as several other private contributors from the Wheeling area, the Miracle League of the Ohio Valley will soon have a field of its own.

Scheduled to break ground in the spring, the field will be constructed with a completely synthetic surface to make it possible for children in wheelchairs and walkers to safely move about the field. The field is anticipated to be completed in the fall of 2010, and will allow hundreds of children with special needs to realize the dream of playing baseball; many of them for the very first time. As important, these children will now have the opportunity to develop relationships with their peers and coaches while playing on their very own field.

"Pirates Charities is extremely proud to partner with the Easter Seals, The J.B. Chambers Foundation, the City of Wheeling and the many other great partners to help build a Miracle League Field in the Ohio Valley," said Pittsburgh Pirates and Pirates Charities President Frank Coonelly. "We look forward to raising awareness of the special nature of this project to Pirates fans across the region, and bringing together the partners necessary to ensure the program's long-term success. We have seen from our work with the Miracle League of Southwestern Pennsylvania the sheer joy and sense of accomplishment that children receive from being able to play baseball on a field of their own. We are thrilled to help bring that same joy to children in the greater Ohio Valley."

Located in the J.B. Chambers Complex, the Miracle League Field will bring a completely new dynamic to not only the Wheeling community, but also the 15 surrounding counties in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania that will also participate in the Miracle League of The Ohio Valley. The Miracle League will be open to any special needs child who wants to play.

"We are extremely excited to form our partnership with Pirates Charities, Ogden Newspapers, The J.B. Chambers Foundation, the City of Wheeling, and our many private contributors to provide the Miracle League of The Ohio Valley a field of their own. This will allow our children with special needs the same type of organized baseball experience that their brothers, sisters and friends enjoy every summer," said Easter Seals President/CEO Lorie Untch. "We sincerely appreciate the commitment from Pirates Charities to devote their energy, enthusiasm and experience working with the Miracle League program, as well as their media resources, to help raise awareness of this important project to ensure its long-term success."

In addition to helping to assemble funding partners for the project and program guidance, Pirates Charities will support the Miracle League of the Ohio Valley in a variety of ways. Pirates players will participate in the groundbreaking and grand opening ceremonies. A special "Miracle League Day" at PNC Park will be planned for this summer, where all Miracle League of the Ohio Valley players and their families will be invited as guests of Pirates Charities to a Pirates game. And, Pirates Charities will work with the Miracle League of Southwestern Pennsylvania to coordinate games between the two Miracle League groups to further promote the Miracle League program throughout the region.

The Miracle League allows for each player to bat once each inning and that all batters are "safe" and score a run before the inning is over. Games are two innings long and each team and each player always wins. Integral to the Miracle League concept is the "Buddy System." Buddies assist all Miracle League players, and are volunteers from youth baseball organizations, local civic and community groups, and individuals with an interest to helping children with special needs.

About Pirates Charities
Pirates Charities, the philanthropic arm of arm of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is a 501(c) 3 organization that focuses on three core areas of youth health, fitness and education. Based on these core areas, the objective of Pirates Charities is outlined in the charitable foundation's mission statement:

Pirates Charities is committed to strengthening the community by supporting organizations and programs aimed at improving the lives of children and adults in the greater Pittsburgh region. Pirates Charities places a special emphasis on supporting youth programs focused on health, fitness, and education by developing partnerships with those who share in our mission.

In 2009, the Pirates and Pirates Charities assisted more than 2,000 organizations. To learn more about Pirates positive impact in the community, visit www.pirates.com/community.

About The Miracle League of the Ohio Valley
The Miracle League of the Ohio Valley is sponsored by the Easter Seals. Currently, more than 50 players participate in the program. In addition to these players, more than 200 local residents are actively participating as "buddies" for the program. For more information about the Miracle League of the Ohio Valley, please contact the Easter Seals at (304) 242-1390.

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