Miracle League of Arkansas
City: Little Rock
Category: Nonprofit Executive of the Year
One Sunday afternoon in 2004, Peggy McCall of Little Rock and another mom watched their adult sons play kickball. Together the two mothers reminisced about their kids’ years of playing league baseball.
“I just felt like people whose kids are disabled should have those same memories. It just popped into my head,” McCall said. “I had no idea what the population of disabled kids was like. It’s huge.”
From McCall’s idea was birthed the Miracle League of Arkansas, the organization she launched in 2006. What McCall quickly discovered was that there were families who would drive to Little Rock from as far as Batesville or Warren so their children with disabilities could play baseball and have fun with other kids.
“Our parents don’t drop their kids off at the mall or at a movie. Our parents can’t do that,” McCall said.
McCall serves as the league’s executive director and sole full-time employee. In her role, McCall works as a fundraiser, volunteer trainer and recruiter.
The Rotary Club of Little Rock initially helped her, raising $500,000 to build a rubber baseball field in Little Rock to keep the children safe.
Subsequently, the Miracle League raised $710,000 to build two fields and a playground in Springdale.
The league offers three types of baseball teams: an original team, or a team for beginners who must play with volunteer assistance; a competitive team, which is for children who can cope with losing; and an adult team.
Volunteers coach and, for the original teams, serve as buddies who accompany children for the whole game, helping them bat, protecting them from stray balls and allowing parents to watch.
In 2011, about 500 children and adults with disabilities played Miracle League baseball with the help of more than 5,000 volunteer hours.