Chick-Fil-A to Sponsor Miracle League of Blaine!

Chick-Fil-A food will be available to players and their families at the field before each Saturday morning game this year!

It is our pleasure to announce that our newest corporate sponsor of the Miracle League of Blaine is Chick-fil-A Coon Rapids at Riverdale and Chick-fil-A Northtown in Blaine.

The Chick-fil-A mascot will be making special appearances and most importantly, Chick-fil-A food will be available to buddies, players, and player families at the field for each Saturday morning game this year! (as supplies last)

If you have never enjoyed Chick-fil-A before, you are in for a real treat.

“Chick-fil-A Coon Rapids at Riverdale and Chick-fil-A Northtown in Blaine catering our games will help us achieve our goal of creating an “Event” atmosphere for Saturday mornings. Music, buddies, special guests, food, and crowds cheering… these are all part of celebrating the great game of baseball and our kids deserve every minute of it.” – Brandy Eckman, president, Miracle League of Blaine

“I am so excited and thankful to Chick-fil-A for sponsoring our Miracle League. I can’t wait for this season!” – Lori Gehrke, Vice President, Miracle League of Blaine

Chick-fil-A Restaurants Participating in Sponsoring Us

“Community is important to us and it is our hope that we can enrich the lives of all of our customers. We enjoy getting to know our guests and look forward to any opportunity to give back to this community who has so graciously supported us.” – Jason Griggs, Chick-fil-A Coon Rapids at Riverdale

“Partnering with the Miracle League of Blaine is an amazing opportunity for us as a locally owned Chick-fil-A to be able to invest in our local community. We are pumped for the excitement this upcoming season will bring!” – Eric Krebs, Chick-fil-A Northtown in Blaine

Nutritional Information

Nutritional information is available here (.pdf opens in a new window) for families with special dietary restrictions. They do use peanut oil but it is considered peanut allergy safe.  Read more here.

The Role of Buddies

One of our amazing players! Such a bright spot on our Saturdays!
One of our amazing players! Such a bright spot on our Saturdays!

People often think their child can’t play on our league because they aren’t the kind of kid who can play in an organized league.

That is a common misconception.

The Miracle League of Blaine accepts ALL children (between the ages of 3-21) with special needs. The reason we are able to do this is because we utilize buddies. Each child is paired with an able bodied child or adult volunteer we refer to as buddies. Buddies make sure to keep our kids safe and engaged in the game. Buddies are so important to our league! They are the glue that holds our games together.

Having buddies for each child enables the parents to enjoy a bit of “normalcy” by sitting in the stands and cheering on their kids.

I know – I was skeptical at first, too. My family’s first game at a Miracle League field was in 2009 in Lexington, Kentucky. I was not sure we would be able to participate because my son was barely walking on his own at age 7, but we pushed ourselves to show up for the first game. When we first got to the game there were kids everywhere! Some were in wheelchairs, some in walkers. Others were walking and running the bases on their own.

There were kids who needed full assistance with batting and getting around the bases (like my son) and then there were kids who were heavy hitters and running the bases like pros. My family learned a lot about acceptance at that field over the 6 years we played there. I’ve tried to bring what we learned there and what we learned at the home office in Atlanta to the Blaine field.

Buddies with Toyota Bluegrass Miracle League, Cincinnati Reds Team
Buddies with Toyota Bluegrass Miracle League, Cincinnati Reds Team

The Buddy’s Role

Buddies help our kids enjoy the game but they also allow parents to enjoy getting to know the other parents of players. This makes us a community. As parents of kids with special needs, we can sometimes feel very alone and lonely. I made some of my best friends at the Toyota Bluegrass Miracle League in Lexington. Having those parents who know what you’re going through, who can lend a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on, is something really special.

But here’s the thing: Not only are the buddies helping our families, we are helping THEM! They get to know our kids and see them as just regular kids. The effect our kids have on them will last a lifetime. We are helping future husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, community leaders, business people, and members of society understand that our kids just want to be accepted and seen for who they are. Please, consider using a buddy for your kid this season. If it would help you, show up a few minutes early and teach your child’s buddy a little bit about them.

This season our buddies will be from the Blaine Area Traveling Baseball Association.

We will not turn any child with special needs away from playing on our field.

If you have any questions or concerns about whether or not your child can play, please give us a call or email one of our board members.

Looking forward to an amazing 2017 Major League Season!

~Brandy Eckman
President and Co-Founder
Miracle League of Blaine

P.S. Take a look at the gallery below to see the joy of both players and their buddies!

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Jersey Day is Coming Right Up!

Dear Miracle League Families,

The board has been very busy gearing up for our Major League season, which starts on May 16th for Tuesday players and May 20th for Saturday players. Please click here to see our schedule. Dates for picture day and the holiday schedule are at that link as well.

Screen shot 2017-02-27 at 2.37.31 PMOur Jersey Pick Up Day is scheduled for Saturday, May 13th from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.
If we have inclement weather that day, pick up will be in the concessions building at the times listed above. Our Pick Up day is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Blaine. They will be supplying a picnic for us, and we will have batting practice that day for those who wish.
We are in need of 4 volunteers for jersey pick up day, May 13th, to run the pick up table. We will need two volunteers prior to that to help us get the jerseys sorted (date TBD).

We are also looking for team parents. The team parent will be in the dugout for each game so the other parents can relax and cheer from the stands. This will ensure the games run smoothly since we have so many players this season. Team parents will assist coaches in creating batting line up and equipment help at the end of the game.

All volunteers will receive a free Miracle League of Blaine tee shirt similar to the one shown!

Just like with other community sports teams, the participation of our parents is tantamount to our success! If you would like to have input on how the league is functioning, please attend a board meeting and perhaps join the board. We would love to have more parental involvement.

If interested in volunteering, please contact info@miracleleagueofblaine.org.

Thank you,

Brandy Eckman, Lori Gehrke, Stacy Murphy,
Andy Stromgren, Joyce Golaski, and Tom Gajeski
Miracle League of Blaine Board Members

Parker Hannifin Cylinder Division Donates to Miracle League of Blaine

Parker Hannifin – Cylinder Division, located in Blaine, generously donated $1,000 to the Miracle League of Blaine.

For more than 100 years, Parker Hannifin has been providing cylinder solutions to meet the changing needs of their customers. They manufacture the largest and most complete selection of NFPA hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders in the world. Through their donation, they will have an impact on the lives of many kids in the North Metro.

Miracle League of Blaine Founders and Members of Parker Hannifin Cylinder Division Management
Miracle League of Blaine Founders and Members of Parker Hannifin Cylinder Division Management

Lori and Izzy Gehrke, and Joel, Brandy, and Jamie Eckman were on hand to receive the donation from Parker Hannifin on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. They spent a few minutes with the team at Parker Hannifin to answer questions and talk about our League.

“We can’t thank the team at Parker Hannifin enough for their very generous donation to the Miracle League of Blaine. It’s through the support of our community that we are able to continue to grow our program and make it better for everyone. This donation will touch the lives of lots of kids and their families.” – Brandy Eckman

The Miracle League of Blaine plans to use the funds to pay for insurance, update gloves and helmets, and purchase catchers equipment.

Miracle League of Blaine at Blizzard Baseball Recap

What started out as an experiment with the Blizzard Foundation turned into something much cooler.

Jeff Huth with the Blizzard Foundation contacted the Board a few months ago to find out if they could get involved in our league and exactly how that would play out. We discussed many options but, the one that really struck us was the idea of playing baseball during the winter. The Foundation invited us to three different dates of play in their practice dome at the Vadnais Sports Center.

At first, we only had a handful of players show up. None of us were really quite certain what to expect. We didn’t have enough kids for a full game so we practiced hitting and running the bases. We had such a great time, and the photos proved it! This got more people excited about what was going on in the dome.

By the second game word had spread and more kids showed up to play with the Blizzard Baseball team. The BB team was so welcoming, and their coaches and parents are doing such an amazing job with these boys. Each one of them would introduce themselves to our players, and get to know them a bit while they played baseball together. Now, I don’t know about you, but this just warms my heart. As a mom of a child with special needs, to see him out there playing baseball with boys his age when he’s so often overlooked, it was something really special.

During the second game, Homer made a surprise visit and our kids went nuts for him! Thanks, Homer, for stopping by!

After that game, we had treats for our New Year’s Eve celebration! Cupcakes, cookies, chips, and drinks were served and the kids really enjoyed hanging out at the hockey rink/table area.

For the third game, we weren’t expecting very many kids. But soon, our small group had grown to 9 kids and their siblings! We ended up having 14 kids play and were able to make two teams. This was very cool as it was the first time we were able to play an actual game! Both teams won!

The coaches and parents of the Blizzard Baseball team should be very proud of their boys.

They all took the time to get to know our kids, and that is something not everyone has the capacity do. We are so happy to have had the opportunity to play at the dome. The smiles on all of the kids’ faces is evidence that they all had a great time together! We cannot thank the Blizzard Foundation enough for their influence in the community and involvement in our league.

Thanks to Jeff and Blizzard Baseball team members, coaches, and parents!

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Spring / Summer 2017 Registration is Now Open!

Time to register to play Miracle League Baseball!
Time to register to play Miracle League Baseball!

Hello Miracle League of Blaine Players and Parents!

We are so excited for our upcoming Major League (Spring/Summer) 2017 Season! There are some pretty fun things in the works!

There is a new registration process that is more streamlined and straightforward. Just click the Register Now button on the homepage and begin the registration process. If you have questions, please contact info@miracleleagueofblaine.org.

You’ll find important dates on the website as well. Our schedule is already up here: http://www.miracleleagueofblaine.org/important-dates/

We are offering Tuesday night games at 6:30 pm and Saturday morning games at 9:30, and possibly 11:30 depending on how many kids register this season. Please note that we cannot guarantee buddies on Tuesday evenings but we are working on it. Our buddies this season will be mostly from the Blaine Area Traveling Baseball League and we are so happy to have our community be a part of our organization.

To save $10 on your registration fees this year, sign up and pay for both seasons!

There are 17 games this year. We understand that players may not be able to make all games. Just come to the games you can and if you’d like to make up a game on an opposite playing day please let your coach know.

We look forward to seeing you all on Opening Day (May 13th) when our players can pick up their jerseys, meet their coaches, make some new friends, and play a short pickup game. We will have snacks and drinks for all players.

A special thank you to our sponsors: MetroTherapy, Globalsites, More Than Kitchens, and the Blizzard Baseball Foundation.

New Year’s Eve Game at Blizzard Baseball

What a wonderful New Year’s Eve morning we had at the Vadnais Sports Center!

The photos tell such a great story. Bet you can’t look at them without smiling!
Siblings were able to take a few swings which is always so much fun for all. We also had a surprise visitor! Our mascot, Homer, came to dance with and high five the kids! After the game, we had cupcakes, cookies, chips, and juice to ring in the New Year.

Check out the photos below.

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Miracle League of Blaine Joins Blizzard Baseball November 19th

What a great morning of baseball we had!

This was our first outing with the Minnesota Blizzard Baseball at the Vadnais Sports Center. We were invited to play three games with them by their Blizzard Baseball Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that encourages their players to become active members of their communities.

Our Miracle League players made some new friends today! We hope you’ll join us for the next two games, December 31st and February 4th.

On December 31st, we plan on having a small New Year’s Eve celebration after the game which starts at 9am at the Vadnais Sports Center (inside the Dome, last field). Snacks and drinks will be provided.

Attendance for these games is free!

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Press Release: Blizzard Foundation Announces Partnership with the Miracle League of Blaine

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The Blizzard Foundation is happy to announce a partnership with the Miracle League.

The partnership will start in November and will consist of the Minnesota Blizzard stepping away from practice a few times during the winter months to host the Miracle League for a few games.

Brandy Eckman, director for Miracle League of Blaine, talked about what this partnership would mean.

“A partnership with the Minnesota Blizzard will mean that our kids will have the opportunity to play baseball and make friends with other kids who love the game as much as our kids do.”

Like the best partnerships, both sides are gaining from the other. Ryan Burmeister, a Blizzard alum and now a seasoned coach in the program, talked about what this partnership means for the Blizzard.

“This partnership means a lot for the Minnesota Blizzard,” Burmeister said. “The Blizzard program as a whole understands the importance of developing our players to be outstanding citizens, not just outstanding baseball players,” Burmeister continued. “What a great way for our kids to give back to the game of baseball and share in their love for the game with others.”

The mission of the Miracle League is to provide opportunities for children between the ages of 3-21 with disabilities to play Miracle League Baseball. A Miracle League game’s dynamics are tweaked for all to enjoy. Every player bats once each inning and all will have the opportunity to score a run. Games usually last two innings with both teams as winners at the end.

“We are looking forward to the camaraderie between the players,” Eckman continued enthusiastically. “The very generous offer to practice with the Blizzard inside will allow us to continue to play in the winter.”

Adam Barta, owner of the Minnesota Blizzard shared the same enthusiasm as Eckman.

“Our staff went to Lakeville a couple years ago to play with the Miracle League,” Barta said. “What a blast! The enthusiasm and joy for the game was infectious. I wanted to be a part of it again and glad that the Blizzard Foundation has the chance to be a part of something very special.”

The Blizzard Foundation’s mission is to serve and provide opportunity to youth and young adults via scholarship and education to inspire them to be outstanding citizens, students, and athletes.

Jeff Huth, director of the Blizzard Foundation, weighed in on the partnership.

“This partnership encompasses our whole foundation’s mission,” Huth said. “One-hundred percent of our ball players have the ability to be outstanding humans. It is not the foundation’s mission to make the best baseball players in Minnesota, but the best students and citizens in the state, who happen to play baseball.”

The first Miracle League games with the Minnesota Blizzard will take place November 19th at the Vadnais Heights Sports Center. Eckman provided a brief snippet of what we can expect.

“You can expect to see lots of smiles and excitement amongst our Miracle League players and their parents,” Eckman said. “There is something about the game of baseball that lights up these kids and it shows. It truly is the best part of the week for a lot of us!”

Support the Miracle League and Earn Your Spring Registration!

Be a Part of History at US Bank Stadium!

The Miracle League of Blaine has partnered with US Bank Stadium and Aramark to volunteer time selling concessions in the new venue. This is a great opportunity to support the Miracle League of Blaine as well as earn money for registration and other Miracle League of Blaine merchandise!

02There is no obligation to participate but, if you or your friends and family have interest, please read on.

  • All events are open to volunteering; Vikings games, concerts, other special events.
  • Anyone age 16+ is able to volunteer. 18+ required for alcohol sales.
  • The Miracle League of Blaine will receive a portion of the proceeds from the stand.
  • $25 for each volunteer be given back to the player/family.  This will be in the form of Registration Credits or Miracle League Bucks where you can order all kinds of merchandise!
  • Basic food & beverage training and background checks are required.
  • Set-up begins 2-4 hours before event time. Clean up is at the end of the 3rd Quarter for football games.

If you have any interest in this opportunity, please fill out this one-minute survey to help us plan.  Space will be limited and may only be restricted to those who participate in the survey.

Additional Details:

  • Event Schedule – Current events are below, more will be added as they are announced.
    Day Date Event Event Time
    Sunday 9/18/2016 Vikings vs Packers 7:30 PM
    Monday 10/3/2016 Vikings vs Giants 7:30 PM
    Sunday 10/9/2016 Vikings vs Texans 12:00 PM
    Sunday 11/6/2016 Vikings vs Lions 12:00 PM
    Sunday 11/20/2016 Vikings vs Cardinals 12:00 PM
    Thursday 12/1/2016 Vikings vs Cowboys 7:25 PM
    Sunday 12/18/2016 Vikings vs Colts 12:00 PM
    Sunday 1/1/2017 Vikings vs Bears 12:00 PM
  • Sign up list – After our commitment contract is signed, we will communicate the details around the sign-up list.  Space will be limited and spots will be filled on a first-come/ first-served basis.
  • Parking – There will be free offsite parking provided with a shuttle to and from the stadium.
  • Training – Once we determine our number of volunteers, we will coordinate the required training sessions.  Several options should be available.
  • Forms – Criminal History Disclosure, Background Check Authorization, and Volunteer Acknowledgement forms are required to participate.
  • Uniform – Black pants, black shoes.  Shirt/Apron/Hat will be provided

Please direct any questions to Andy Stromgren andy@miracleleagueofblaine.org.