Involvement in team sports creates important learning experiences for children the world over, and Wewoka, Oklahoma is no exception. For over 70 years, the Lions club little league baseball field has served thousands of children in Wewoka and the surrounding rural communities, but over time the field has fallen into disrepair.
The Wewoka Ballpark Development Squad is undertaking a project to restore their "field of dreams." To this end, they have sought funding from multiple sources, including embarking on a six-week YouHelp crowdfunding campaign to raise $150,000 for the new field. The Wewoka Ballpark Development Squad, comprised of the City of Wewoka, Jearl Smart Foundation, the Wewoka Chapter of Lions Club International, and a team of consultants organized specifically for the renovation and expansion of Wewoka's Historic Ballpark, is encouraging Wewoka Tigers Alumni, current and former residents, athletes, supporters, coaches to contribute to the campaign and share the information with their friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels.
The complex will consist of four fields, with a capacity to serve more than 3,000 children in the surrounding communities.
"In restoring the little league fields, we hope to not only provide these opportunities for the youth in Wewoka, but we also hope that this project demonstrates to each child what is possible. A new, state-of-the-art field would represent the idea that anything is achievable regardless of your current circumstance. In this way, the project benefits not only the children but every citizen of Wewoka. We understand that this project will require an immense amount of time, work and energy. Our children are worth it," said a spokesperson for Wewoka's baseball field project.
A Dream Come True
When major league baseball (MLB) All-Star and 2008 World Series champion Chase Utley announced this year's winners of the 2019 MLB award with Scotts Lawn Care grant award many were in disbelief to hear him congratulate the City of Wewoka named first among the four recipients. Utley was one of a panel of judges which included Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., Olympic Gold Medalist and MLB Youth Softball Ambassador Jennie Finch, World Series champion and MLB Network analyst Cliff Floyd, and additional executive leadership from MLB and Scotts.
"We're looking forward to fixing up your fields. Listen, I have two young boys. I enjoy watching them play baseball, especially on beautiful fields. I think every kid should have the opportunity to feel safe, feel comfortable, and really look forward to that experience of going to a beautiful baseball field and what Scotts and Major League Baseball have done over the past several years is extremely important and true to my heart, to support their program and they've done a great job.
The City of Wewoka was chosen from 350 applicants to receive the grant, a partnership between the Scotts Company LLC (Scotts) and Major League Baseball. The two partner each year to refurbish youth baseball and softball fields around the country. Grant applications this year came from over 300 cities in 46 states. The grant initiative is part of the Scotts Field Refurbishment Program which provides youth with modern, playable baseball and softball fields in American communities of need. More than $200,000 in repairs and upgrades will be made across the four fields in the next few months.
The other winners of the grant program this year are Allentown School District and Lehigh Valley RBI Baseball (PA), Friends of Ray School PTO (Chicago, IL) and Friends of Mount Vernon Arts, Recreation and Youth Programs, Inc. (NY).
In addition to the grant, Scotts will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at each chosen field as well as a youth baseball clinic run by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation that will be attended by special Major League guests. A new equipment package will also be provided to each of the four grant recipients.
The poverty rate in Wewoka exceeds 55% in children under the age of 18. Growing up in a struggling rural community like Wewoka, youth face many problems like economic disparity, educational inequality, poverty, and in many cases, abuse and neglect.
Nearly 10,000 children in and around Wewoka use this field, allowing them the opportunity to dream of a better future, learn important life skills, build friendships, find mentors, and grow.
The money raised will expand the Lions Club Ballpark in phases; pay for building and refurbishment of fields, provide new concession and bathroom facilities, as well as shading, seating, and parking.
The entire budget for the project is $700,000. Donations for over $109,000 have been received so far.
Find out more about renovation projects for individuals, businesses, and nonprofits on YouHelp. Start a crowdfunding campaign to renovate, repair, or rebuild a home, business, or your nonprofit's premises today.
About the Author: The author is a staff writer for YouHelp and all GrantWatch websites.