Buffalo Wild Wings: Eat Wings, Raise Funds

Get your tummies ready, Miracle Leaguers!

On Monday, September 12th and Wednesday, September 21st, Buffalo Wild Wings in Blaine is sponsoring an Eat Wings, Raise Funds fundraiser for the Miracle League of Blaine. Print out the attached coupons or mention our name and present them at the time of your meal to donate 10% of the total meal and alcohol sales to the Miracle League of Blaine.

bww_ewrfdetailAll you need to do is sit down, relax, eat some wings, and Buffalo Wild Wings donates 10% of the sales to our league to be used to repair our field!

Please consult their website for allergy information.

Let’s make this a huge success! Please invite friends and family to participate in our fundraiser, too.

 

Monday, September 12th
Monday, September 12th

 

Sept 21 BWW Ticket
Wednesday, September 21st

 

 

 

 

Fundraising Committee Search

A letter from the Board of Directors of the Miracle League of Blaine:

Dear Miracle League Families,

We are looking for two sets of subcommittee personnel for the board; 2-3 people for each. Anyone with experience in fundraising or with a financial background or filled with love for the Miracle League and who wants to see us succeed should inquire about joining the following two subcommittees:

  • Fundraising committee for the Miracle League
  • Park committee to help in planning, designing, and building the new inclusive community park
    Check out these photos of the parks in Jonesboro, Ark., Pasadena, Calif., and Lakeville, Minn. that were recently opened.
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We are in need of funds to repair our field.

It is falling apart along the baselines and some of the top of the fence is coming apart. We have met with a representative from Landscape Structures who will be getting us a quote for repairing the field and we hope that this will hold us for a couple of years while we raise the money to build a new field.

As many of you know, our field is 10 years old. It was the very first field to be built in the state! Back then, they didn’t know you shouldn’t build a field on top of blacktop, nor build it with latex. Now, we haven’t had any complaints from the latex at this point, but it can pose problems for people with latex allergies. We will need to rebuild our field in the next two years. To do this, we have to raise funds from our community.

Other reasons to raise funds:

  • Insurance for the league runs approximately $2500 per year
  • Dues to the Miracle League corporate office are $500 per year
  • Nonprofit filing fee to the IRS was $275
  • Credit card processing fees on registration is 3% per transaction
  • Secretary of State filing for incorporation was $90
  • Minnesota Council of Nonprofits filing fee was $50
  • Business office needs including business cards, fliers, banners, printing, for recruiting players and sponsors, etc

Because of all of these expenses, we will be unable to purchase jerseys for any child who played in the spring of this year. Medals or trophies will be given out to each registered player for the Summer 2 season of 2016. We are just as disappointed as you are that there will be no jerseys this season but we are operating on a negative budget right now, and we appreciate your patience in our transition.

We have 6 boxes of candy bars to sell at our games and any other local businesses that will allow us to place candy in their locations. We have some other ideas for fundraising and need your help getting them off the ground.

  • A concession stand at a Vikings game (more info coming on this)
  • Wiffle ball game on Opening Ceremony day that the parents will play
  • Cookbooks with recipes from our Miracle League families
  • Custom t-shirts and sweatshirts with the Miracle League of Blaine logo
  • If you have any ideas for fundraisers please join the committee or send us an email

Thank you to all that have registered for the Summer 2 season. Registration is still open.

We are very excited to work through the fall and winter to make our Spring season opener the best yet! We have a few surprises up our sleeves and can’t wait to share the news. Stay tuned on Facebook and the website for updates.

Thank you,

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

Miracle League of Blaine End of Summer Season 2016 Party Recap

Hello Miracle League Parents and Players!

Thank you to all who attended our End of Summer 2016 Season party!

It was a huge success and all because of you! We had pizza and drinks donated by Haythem Khalil with the Kris Lindahl team from Remax Results, and bundtinis donated by Terrie Crosson from Nothing Bundt Cakes in Blaine, along with all of the food brought by each of you. Photos of the party may be seen here.

The PA system was running and the scoreboard was lit up, music was playing, and everyone had a great time. We had some things handed out to each family – key rings from the corporate office, snack packs from the board, and contact information for each board member. You can read the board contact information here.

Fall Season

For the fall season, we are focusing on building the league up. We know that the fall league isn’t as robust as the spring, so please bear with us as we go through this transition. Our plan is to have a big Opening Day ceremony in the spring.

Registration is now open. We know that the system is clunky and has a few issues and we are working on it. This is the registration system that the national office has asked us to use. We are working closely with the software engineer and hope to have the kinks worked out before spring registration. In the meantime, please report any issues you’re having with registration to brandy@miracleleagueofblaine.org so she can report back to the engineer.

Fundraising

Over the next few months we will be fundraising for the league. Many of our parents have asked why we need to raise funds. We’ve listed a few reasons below:

  • Insurance for the league runs approximately $2500 per year
  • Dues to the Miracle League corporate office are $500 per year
  • Nonprofit filing fee to the IRS was $275
  • Credit card processing fees on registration is 3% per transaction
  • Secretary of State filing for incorporation was $90
  • Minnesota Council of Nonprofits filing fee was $50
  • Business office needs including business cards, fliers, banners, printing, for recruiting players and sponsors, etc
  • Jerseys and caps will be $30 per child / coach

We have some great ideas for fundraising and we hope that you’ll all be involved with it. Some of our ideas are:

  • Selling candy bars outside of Walmart or Cub Foods in Blaine (like Girl Scouts with cookies)
  • Miracle League of Blaine t-shirts, hoodies, and car decals (like other sports teams)
  • T-shirts and hoodies can be customized for an additional fee (ie, Izzy’s Mom on the back, etc)
  • Cookie dough sale
  • Polar Plunge in January
  • Miracle League day at Dairy Queen, Buffalo Wild Wings, etc
  • Sponsorship opportunities for local businesses (please let us know if your company is willing to sponsor). We have a sponsorship request letter we can hand out for your reference.
  • Vikings game day concession stand work (we would work their concession stand and they give us a portion of the proceeds for our league) – I know a lot of parents would like to do this!
T-shirts still available. Let us know if anyone is missing a shirt.
T-shirts still available. Let us know if anyone is missing a shirt.

New Field

Another reason to raise funds are that we are in need of a new field. It is in disrepair along the baselines and in the dugouts where it is coming apart. We can patch it but that will only last a couple of years in our harsh climate.

The field was built 10 years ago and at that time, they didn’t know that it shouldn’t be built on blacktop or with latex. The national office has new guidelines for building fields. Johnny Franklin is the Field Development Manager and he is aware of our issues on our field. We have been in touch with Landscape Structures regarding a new field and they will be getting us a price for that some time soon so we will know what we need to raise to build a new field in the same spot.

Playground

Another thing we would like to focus on is an inclusive playground. We know the playground that is at the park now is considered “handicap accessible” but that only means our kids can roll up to it. It is not accessible in that they can’t actually play on it. There are no accessible swings, slides, or ground upon which to roll their chairs and walkers. Please see this playground to see an idea of what we want to build. It is a lofty goal, but one the board believes we can reach if we work together. This is a 4 to 5 year goal for our league and an awesome opportunity to bring our community together for our kids. This park would also be built by Landscape Structures.

Volunteers

Board members: Lori, Tom, Brandy, Joyce, and Andy
Board members: Lori, Tom, Brandy, Joyce, and Andy

We have tons of volunteer opportunities available. We are looking for buddies for each Saturday game, along with more coaches and assistant coaches. We also need a parent volunteer for each team to be responsible for snack sign-ups, jersey orders and handouts, and any other issues that may come up throughout the season.

We have reached out to Northwestern University, Bethel University, Blaine High School Athletics, and Centennial High School Athletcs regarding buddy opportunities. We have other organizations to contact regarding this so we will keep you posted. If you have anyone in mind to contact for buddies for our players, please get with the board and we will give you our letter for requesting buddies.

We hope that each of you will be patient with us through this transition into the fall season. As always, if you have questions or comments, please get in contact with one of the board members.

Thank you for your continued support,

Brandy, Lori, Andy, Tom, and Joyce

Miracle League of Blaine Board Member Bios

Board of Directors for the Miracle League of Blaine

The board members of the Miracle League of Blaine are listed below. The board has a lot of experience collectively in administration, finance, fundraising, and league management.

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Brandy Eckman – President

(651) 262-4099
brandy@miracleleagueofblaine.org

Brandy Eckman is President of the Miracle League of Blaine. Brandy has a background in finance and human resources. She currently is the Business Operations Manager and Social Media Manager of a web design and digital marketing agency. In 2008, she and her family moved from Ocala, Florida to Lexington, Kentucky and they began their history with the Miracle League on the Toyota Bluegrass Miracle League. Her son, Jamie, played 6 years there and then the family moved to Lino Lakes, Minnesota. In August, Brandy is traveling to Atlanta to train with the National Miracle League leaders.

Brandy lives in Lino Lakes with her husband Joel and their children, Jamie and Riley. She is looking forward to an exciting season this Fall and working hard to make Spring’s Opening Day absolutely amazing!

Lori Gehrke – Vice President

(651) 492-2460
lori@miracleleagueofblaine.org

Lori Gehrke is Vice President of the Miracle League of Blaine. Lori is very excited about the changes that are happening for all of the kids playing with the Miracle League of Blaine. Lori owns More Than Kitchens, a custom cabinetry company and has been in the custom cabinetry field for over 15 years. She has been involved in sports from a very young age and now is enjoying watching and coaching her two children. She has been a volunteer for the Special Olympics and the Miracle League since 2011.
Lori lives in Stacy with her husband Shadd and twins Braedon and Izabella (Miracle Leaguer).

Andy Stromgren – League Director

(612) 501-4672
andy@miracleleagueofblaine.org

Andy Stromgren if the League Director of the Miracle League of Blaine and is responsible for community engagement and operations management. Andy holds an MBA and currently works for UnitedHealth Group as an Information Security Manager where he enjoys organizing team-building volunteer activities. Andy has a strong sporting background (he hit his first home run at the Blaine Baseball Complex) and has formerly worked for the Minnesota Sports Federation. He is currently fundraising to support the Salvation Army and participating in the 2016 Most Amazing Race – Twin Cities.

Andy is a Blaine resident with his wife Michele and twins Sawyer (Miracle Leaguer) and Sochi.

Tom Gajeski – Assistant League Director

(651) 235-0848
tom@miracleleagueofblaine.org

Tom Gajeski has been involved in Miracle League for the past 7 years, either as an assistant coach or coach on Wednesday nights. Hi is grateful that Miracle League had a field close to his family so his son had a place to play baseball. He is on the board for Miracle League of Blaine to make sure that children with disabilities can experience the game of baseball in a safe and positive environment. “There is so much that we can accomplish if we all work together towards a common goal and that goal is a league that we can all be proud to be a part of!”

Joyce Golaski – Fundraising Chairman

(651) 462-5939
joyce@miracleleagueofblaine.org

Joyce has been with the Miracle League as a parent for many years. She has a background in finance and executive assisting. Joyce lives in the north metro and has two sons, Derrick (Miracle Leaguer) and Dylan. She is very excited about helping the league raise funds for a new field and playground.

Advisory Board – Elected by Board in an Advisory Capacity

Joel Eckman – Publicity and Sponsorship Chairman / Marketing Director

jeckman@globalsites.net / (352) 875-9041

Shadd Gehrke – Director of Coaches

talon0530@me.com

Every Child Deserves a Chance to Play Baseball!

The Miracle League is a charitable organization that provides children with mental and / or physical challenges an opportunity to play baseball as a team member in an organized league.

There is something about playing the game of baseball that lights up kids’ eyes, but  for children facing physical and mental challenges, that opportunity can often be a difficult first step.

homer1The Miracle League gives these children the opportunity to get out in the sunshine and enjoy playing the game of baseball in its purest form. Since 2006 the Miracle League of Blaine, Minnesota has been providing children with disabilities from the ages of 3-21 the opportunity to play baseball.

Play Ball!

  • The Miracle League is a fully inclusive program.
  • Anyone aged 3-21 with a disability may be eligible to play.
  • To register to play ball, please click here.

Miracle League Rules

  • Every player bats once each inning
  • All players are safe on the bases
  • Every player scores a run before the inning is over
  • Every team and every player wins every game

Be a Buddy or Volunteer!

  • A buddy’s role is to assist the player both offensively and defensively, as little or as much as each individual player requires. Buddies also assist the player in being an active participant in the game and to look out for the safety of the player at all times.
  • To register as a buddy or volunteer, please click here.

Change of Weekly Schedule Announcement

There have been a lot of questions regarding the change of weekly schedule for the Fall season.

Please know that this decision was not taken lightly and that the board did vote unanimously to make the schedule be Tuesday nights at 6:30 for the only week night games with all other games being on Saturday starting at 9 am.

Miracle-League-of-Blaine-LogoOur reasoning for this is that the majority of the over 300 Miracle Leagues in the country all play on Saturdays as is the guideline from the national office. We also will be using buddies for our players’ safety and for the parents to have  few minutes of respite in the week. Buddies and other volunteers are more readily available on Saturdays as well as umpires, coaches, and team parents.

Financial Accounting

As for our finances, we are short on funds currently. We have had to pay quite a bit of money to fund our company organization, nonprofit status, dues to the Miracle League to function as a proper league, business expenses, etc. If anyone would like a financial accounting of where we are, you may request this from the board. As a nonprofit, it is our responsibility to share all of this information with you when requested and once yearly. Board meetings are also open to all who wish to attend. If you are unable to attend a meeting, please submit your questions and we can answer those via email or phone calls.

We will be setting up fundraisers in the near future so please stay tuned for those announcements. We hope that you’ll all help make this league the best it can be!

The board will be sending out bios and contact information for each of its members within the next two weeks. If you have any questions in the meantime, please send an email to the League Directors Brandy Eckman and Lori Gehrke at: brandy@miracleleagueofblaine.org or lori@miracleleagueofblaine.org.

 

Registration and End of Season Party Announcement to Parents

Dear Parents of Miracle League Players,

We hope that everyone has had a great experience with the last few weeks of our Miracle League of Blaine Spring / Summer 2016 season! We know there are many changes happening and we are so appreciative of your support as we transition to the new leadership.

We are looking forward to another great season in the fall!

Madisyn and Buddy
Madisyn and Buddy

Registration will be opening for the fall season in the next couple of weeks. The fall season will run from August 13th through September 10th with options for play this season on Tuesday nights at 6:30 and Saturdays starting at 9 am. Our goal is to get everyone playing on Saturday and rotating the games so that players and parents can meet folks on the other teams. This will enable everyone to make new friends and play on a real baseball league!

End of Season Party

As our funds are limited at this point, we would like to ask everyone to bring a snack or dessert to share (nothing homemade as we need to be able to read labels for our kiddos with food allergies) and drinks for your own family. Please continue to RSVP on the Facebook page, or reply to this email with your headcount so we can plan for everyone.

In the coming weeks we will begin to discuss with you our fundraising drives. There will be plenty of opportunities to raise funds with the ideas the board has agreed upon and we are very excited to share these with you at the party / meeting on the 16th.

We will also be sending out bios and contact information for each of the 5 current board members so that you will know who is running the league. We firmly believe that an open and honest line of communication will benefit us all.

Please forward this email to anyone you feel would enjoy being a part of our Miracle League community. We are currently looking for new players, volunteers, coaches, and team parents. If you wish to volunteer, please reply to this email and we will put you on the list.

We want to thank each of you again for being patient with the transition.

If you have any comments or questions, please reply to this email, or direct them to either League Director:
Brandy Eckman (brandy@miracleleagueofblaine.org)
Lori Gehrke (lori@miracleleagueofblaine.org).

If you haven’t liked us on Facebook yet, please do so. There is a lot of information going on there. There are also notifications going out on the website at www.miracleleagueofblaine.org.

Blaine Miracle League Field Parent & Coach End of Season Party & Meeting

Hello parents and coaches from the Blaine Miracle League field!

As you may have noticed, there are some changes occurring at our Blaine Miracle League field. Working together with the National Miracle
League, a new board of directors has been formed to represent the field under Miracle League guidelines. The newly recognized entity, “Miracle League of Blaine” will be responsible for all player, coach and buddy registration, game schedules, equipment and events. Continue reading

Izzy Gehrke Takes Minnetonka By Storm!

Izabella Gehrke, a Miracle League of Blaine Saturday teammate, played in Minnetonka today.

Izzy was part of a group of kids who played with the All-Star high school boys as buddies.

This was a huge event put on by our friends with the West Metro Miracle League. Thanks to Tonya Andruskiewicz for the invitation! We look forward to meeting you again. To see how much fun Izzy had, see the photos below.

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Miracle League of Blaine Board Members Visit Landscape Structures

On June 9th and 10th, we (Lori Gehrke and Brandy Eckman and our husbands) met with Diane Alford, President and founder of The Miracle League, and her staff in Minneapolis.

We spent spent time with other leaders of Miracle Leagues from across the country who are in all stages of development of their programs. Some leaders were just beginning, and others were already on year 2 of play on their brand new fields. This experience was full of laughter, learning, and love for what we do! If ever there was an inspiring group of people to be with, it was those folks.

Tour of Landscape Structures

The trip started out on Thursday evening with a dinner at Blu in Minneapolis. We spent a couple of hours visiting with the leaders and the Miracle League corporate staff (Diane Alford, Johnny Franklin, and Stephanie Davis). Then early Friday morning the whole group boarded a bus and rode out to Delano, Minnesota to tour the campus of Landscape Structures. LSI is a company that partners with Miracle Leagues to build safe ball fields and amazing inclusive playgrounds for all children. The group spent the day touring their facilities, meeting team members and learning more about their products.

The photos don’t do them justice!

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These playgrounds are amazing creations and the Miracle League of Blaine is hoping to build one for ALL of our community to enjoy.

After the tour we boarded the bus for another ride to Lakeville Miracle League where it was sprinkling a little. The rain did not stop the grown adults from playing on the playground like a bunch of little kids! Some of us even got a little silly (Shadd Gehrke, we’re looking at YOU!). These playgrounds are completely amazing and awe-inspiring. The first step onto the playground squishes under your feet in comfort. Our kids will be able to play with their siblings and friends on a playground just like this in our community!

Twins vs Red Sox at Target Field in the Landscape Structures box!

After we played for about half an hour, it was time to load back onto the bus and head to a Twins game. This was a special treat because the parents of David Price (pitcher for the Red Sox) were with us as they are opening a Miracle League in their hometown in Tennessee. The Twins didn’t win, but it was hard to count it as a total loss after the amazing two days we had spent being inspired by the other leaders and especially Diane, Stephanie, and Johnny.

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20160617_100903The work ahead of us

Lori & Shadd and Joel & I were the only ones that have children with special needs in the group so it was nice to be able to share our perspectives as parents with the leaders of the other Miracle Leagues that will be changing the lives of people like us.

When we arrived back at our office on Monday, we were greeted with a giant binder full of our new policies and procedures from the corporate office! We can’t wait to tell you more about this new adventure and we hope to keep the inspiration going.

We look forward to the hard work and dedication it will take to grow our league and build an inclusive playground, but we feel with your cooperation and an open line of communication between us, we can do anything!