LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Baseball; It's called America's Favorite Pastime. But many kids can't play on a regular field because they have special needs. That could soon change.
For the last few years, Shawn Freibert has been working on his own field of dreams. It's called the Miracle League of Louisville.
There are currently nearly 300 Miracle Leagues around the country, allowing children who struggle to play on a regular baseball field the opportunity to play the game.
"Once this Miracle League is built, you'll have a place to do what many other kids get to do," Freibert said, speaking to children with special needs. "That is to play ball and have fun on a place specifically designed for you."
He understands why it is needed; it's because of his son Nicholas.
"I was born with autism and I was always like this," Nicholas, who explained that he would enjoy playing on the Miracle League, said.
Tuesday night an event was held at Louisville Slugger Field for donors and those interested in learning more about the program.
It was announced that Delta Dental is donating $200,000 to the cause, bringing the total raised so far to $500,000.
"We believe everyone has the right to a healthy and happy smile," Brian Hart, the Vice President of Marketing and Sales with Delta Dental, said. "And what better opportunity to display that then the opportunity for these children to have a place to play in a safe and supportive environment.
$2 million is needed to cover the baseball field, accessible playground, and accessible splash pad, allowing kids in wheelchairs or those who use walkers to enjoy other forms of play. A location has already been chosen at Fern Creek Park.
The closest Miracle League is currently in Lexington. Louisville is one of the largest cities without a Miracle League.
The specially designed, rubberized surface and flat bases allow those with walkers and wheelchairs to play baseball. Heidi McKenzie of Lexington, who became a paraplegic after a car accident ten years ago, traveled to Louisville to talk about the impact it has had on her.
"It's amazing to be able to get out there and know that I can do something and not have anybody say I can't," McKenzie said.
Volunteer buddies also work with the players to assist them in hitting the ball and making it around to the bases.
It's estimated over 20,000 children in the Louisville area would be eligible to play in the Miracle League.
"I would love to play on the Miracle League," David DeSanctis, who currently plays baseball on his Special Olympics team, said.
Those behind the Miracle League of Louisville hope to raise $1.2 million by August and then break ground. They also have a long term agreement with Metro Parks and the City of Louisville to maintain the field and property once it is built.
To learn more about the Miracle League of Louisville click here.