Schoolcraft, MI

Every kid deserves the chance to play baseball

The Miracle League provides a safe and fun environment where kids with disabilities can enjoy themselves and experience the camaraderie of playing baseball in a field all their own.

NBC Nightly News | Miracle League Baseball

Check out this great video of the Miracle League in action featured on NBC Nightly News

We’re united by a purpose: to build a field where dreams come to life.

Help us raise funds to create

The Southwest Michigan Miracle League Field

Our mission is to provide opportunities for kids, regardless of their abilities, to compete and experience the joy and benefits that come from playing sports.

About Us

The Miracle League is a national organization that provides opportunities for kids with disabilities to play baseball, regardless of their abilities. The organization promotes community support and sponsorship of Miracle Leagues across the country. The Miracle League also promotes the construction of special facilities that meet the unique needs of Miracle League players and their families.

A Miracle League Field lets kids with disabilities – both boys and girls – enjoy themselves and experience the camaraderie of playing baseball in a field all their own. A Miracle League Field is a custom-designed field with a cushioned, rubberized surface to help prevent injuries, wheelchair accessible dugouts, and a completely flat surface to eliminate any barriers to wheelchair users or visually impaired players. The Miracle League also uses a special ball that is bigger and softer than a traditional baseball. The Miracle League is open to kids aged 5-19 whose physical or mental abilities are better served by the specialized playing field and rules of play that the Miracle League provides.

We are building the Southwest Michigan Miracle League Field in Schoolcraft, Michigan, to serve the southwest Michigan area. There are 4,600 kids in Kalamazoo County who have disabilities and could benefit from a Miracle League in our area. Kids in counties throughout southwest Michigan are welcome to play and will benefit from the Miracle League Field. Because the Miracle League Field will be located on US-131, it has good visibility and easy access to people throughout southwest Michigan. We plan to break ground on the field and begin hosting Miracle League games in 2020.

The Miracle League Provides many benefits to kids with disabilities:

  • A break from their everyday challenges and barriers, allowing them to relax, have fun and be a kid.
  • The joy of playing baseball, America’s favorite pastime, and being outside and active.
  • The camaraderie of being on a team and making new friends.
  • The opportunity to build self-esteem and confidence and move outside their comfort zone.

Our History

The Miracle League is a successful organization that has been around for nearly 20 years. The first Miracle League began in 1998 in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. The first-of-its-kind Miracle League Field broke ground on December 31, 1999, and the Miracle League complex was completed in April 2000. Presently there are over 300 Miracle League organizations across the country, including in Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia. In Michigan, there are currently Miracle Leagues in Grand Rapids, Lansing and the Detroit area. The Miracle League serves over 250,000 kids with disabilities. Learn more at www.miracleleague.com/history.

How You Can Help

DONATE

We welcome contributions at any level. Big or small, all donations will help build a field where dreams come to life.



SPONSOR

$1.1 million is needed to build the Miracle League Field and we are looking for sponsors who are willing to invest.




VOLUNTEER

Become a buddy that assists each player by helping them onto the field and during the game, cheering them on, and making sure their time is enjoyable and safe.  
                 

PLAY

The Miracle League is for kids aged 5-19 whose physical or mental abilities are better served by the specialized playing field and rules of play that the Miracle League provides.

Our Team

Our dedicated team is working tirelessly to make the Southwest Michigan Miracle League dream into a reality.

Jud Hoff

President/Board Member

Jud grew up in Olympia, Washington. After attending the United States Military Academy at West Point and serving in the Army as an aviation officer, Stryker brought him to Kalamazoo, Michigan. He spent 26 years at Stryker, serving in a variety of leadership roles at the division and corporate level. Jud retired in 2016 and currently serves on several non-profit and for-profit boards. His passion for fitness and kids led him to become a co-owner in Next Level Performance and The Dome Sports Center. After seeing a Miracle League game, he was hooked. Jud is committed to bringing the Miracle League to life in southwest Michigan to allow this group of young athletes the opportunity to make a difference in their community. Jud, his wife, Darcy, and four children call Portage, Michigan, home.

Josh Baird

Vice President/Board Member

Having grown up in southwest Michigan, Josh attended Michigan State University to pursue a career as a chemistry/math teacher and coach. After graduation, life took Josh on a different path to Stryker, where he served in various roles for over 15 years. With his passion for investing in students’ lives, his love of athletics, and his business experience, Josh leads Next Level Performance and The Dome’s business operations and works diligently to build partnerships that enable Next Level to offer athletes everything they need to succeed in the classroom, on the playing field, and in their communities. Josh resides in Vicksburg, Michigan, with his wife, Amber, and son, Jacob.

Bill Deming

Secretary/Board Member

A Portage, Michigan, resident since 1980, Bill retired from Parks, Recreation and Public Services in 2015 after 35 years of service to the City of Portage. Bill has a long history of involvement with various community groups by serving on various boards, and he continues to stay engaged in his profession as a consultant. He is a baseball enthusiast, having played collegiate ball and beyond, and he is now coaching his grandson’s Little League team.

Dave Olson

League Commissioner/Board Member

Dave grew up in Vicksburg, Michigan and still lives in the area with his wife, Kim. Dave is self-employed and very involved in his grandchildren’s local sports teams. Dave has coached many baseball teams and served on the Vicksburg Little League and the First Challenger teams. After attending a Miracle Field baseball game at the Art Van Sports Complex in Grand Rapids, Dave became driven to duplicate the opportunity in southwest Michigan. Dave and Kim have two sons, David and Ryan, and four grandchildren, Cameron, Ava, Landon and Havana, who are the pride of their lives.

Lisa Anspaugh

CPA, Treasurer/Board Member

Lisa is a certified public accountant and has over 25 years of public accounting experience, along with three years in the banking industry as a portfolio manager and private lender. Lisa is a Mattawan High School and Western Michigan University graduate. She now lives in Schoolcraft, Michigan, with her husband, Bob. Her family also includes her daughter, Faith, and grandson, Beckham, and twin sons, Nolan and Caleb. Lisa brings a love and passion for baseball and softball by playing herself and now coaching her daughter, as well as watching her husband coach their twin sons, who now play at the collegiate level. Most recently she got to see her grandson share the love of baseball as he played his first season of T-ball. She is thrilled to be a part of an organization that will bring the love of the game to a whole new group of athletes!

Josh Will

Board Member

Josh is passionate about helping others by doing everything he can to give everyone a reason to smile. It’s that passion that led Josh to the Miracle League. Josh’s cousin, Derek, who loves baseball, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at a young age, which started Josh down this path. Derek’s parents and the rest of family rallied around him to start various fundraising efforts to help fight Duchenne, and Josh would help out in any way he could. “When Derek smiles, he lights up a room, and that’s when it hits you. While this young kid has every reason to be sad and upset at the world, he shows us all that there is plenty to be grateful for.” After learning of the Miracle League and its mission, Josh knew immediately that he wanted to be involved. Josh is a cool guy (his words) and would love for you stop by and say hello when you attend a Miracle League game. Josh has worked in the financial industry for over 14 years. He and his daughter, Grace, who is also a member of the Youth Board, resides in Portage.

Dr. Luchara Wallace

Board Member

Dr. Luchara Wallace is an Associate Professor of Special Education at Western Michigan University and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, an M.Ed. and M.A. from Loyola University-Chicago, and a B.A. from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She worked as a full-time classroom teacher in both the elementary and secondary settings for five years, where she had the opportunity to coordinate programming to support students with learning disabilities and emotional/behavioral disorders. Luchara’s interest in family and policy studies is a continuation of her desire to support individuals with disabilities and their families in creating the kind of life they desire. Luchara is also interested in determining how families learn about the policies that impact them and how that knowledge impacts their family’s quality of life.

Wade Rutkoskie

Fund Development/Board Member

Wade received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Western Michigan University. He has worked in a variety of industries in the Kalamazoo area, including construction management and medical technology and currently works at Tekna, a product development company. Wade stays active in various projects and committees, volunteering as an advisor for Junior Achievement, serving on multiple school planning committees and as the President of the Schoolcraft Athletic Boosters, and was recently voted onto the Schoolcraft Community Schools Board of Education. As a former athlete and current baseball and football coach, Wade is passionate about sports and the opportunities they provide to kids to learn about being a team player and a leader in all aspects of their lives. Wade, his wife, Cari, and son, Thomas live in Schoolcraft, Michigan, and Thomas serves on the Miracle League Youth Board.

Cari Rutkoskie

Marketing & PR/Board Member

Cari has lived in Schoolcraft, Michigan, for over 20 years and is excited to see the Miracle League come to life. Cari received her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan. She started her career at a law firm in Portage, Michigan, then spent over 24 years at Stryker in the areas of legal, human resources, communications and brand. Although she didn’t play sports as a kid, she loves watching her teenaged son, Thomas, play baseball, football and basketball and supporting her husband, Wade, who is a coach. Cari is on the Schoolcraft Athletic Boosters board and serves as the project manager for the Boosters’ annual fundraisers as well as its marketing and communications. She is the owner of Words Matter Consulting, which specializes in communications, brand messaging and employee value proposition/employment brand.

Chris Sargent

Board Member

Chris is dedicated to helping individuals, as demonstrated by his 18 years in the nonprofit world. He is currently the President & CEO of the United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region (UWBCKR). Prior to his current role, he was the Vice President of Resource Development for UWBCKR and also served as the Annual Campaign Associate and Assistant Campaign Director. Prior to his extensive nonprofit work, Chris had a successful career as a realtor with RE/MAX. He sits on a number of local and state boards, and he and his wife, Kimberly, make their home in the Battle Creek area where they have three kids and seven grandkids. Chris received his bachelor’s degree in Biology, Environmental Science, and Business from Alma College in 1997.

Eric Guerin

Board Member

Eric has practiced law in Kalamazoo since 1991 and currently serves as Vice President and General Counsel of Allen Edwin Homes. Eric has served on several boards in the area, including the Austin Lake Riparians, Inc. and the Long Lake Association. Eric’s daughter was diagnosed with autism at age 3 and is currently completing her twenty-third year as a year-round student in KRESA, where she attended both Croyden and WoodsEdge. The professionals and student paraprofessionals at KRESA demonstrate extraordinary commitment to those with special needs, and service as a Board Member for the Southwest Michigan Miracle League is one tiny way Eric hopes to give back.

Billy Gernon

Ambassador/Board Member

Billy is the head coach of the Western Michigan University Broncos baseball team. In 2016, Gernon led WMU to its first MAC Tournament Championship in school history, as well as a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 27 years. In his last nine years at the helm of the Broncos, Gernon has led the team to the MAC tournament an unprecedented six times. Billy and his team support the community in various ways, including United Way Big Brothers Program, Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, Bronson Children’s Hospital, Loaves & Fishes, Toys for Tots, Tree of Life, and the VA Hospital in Battle Creek. Billy has a passion for serving others, especially young kids. He believes that players learn many valuable life lessons when they give of their personal time and realize the impact they can have on someone’s life. He looks forward to working with the Miracle League with his team and players to serve something much greater than themselves.

Adam Danapilis

Board Member

Adam resides in Portage with his wife, Lisa, and children, Rebecca and Nolan. He loves coaching his son in travel baseball and watching his daughter swim and play water polo. Adam earned his bachelor’s degree in special education from Elmhurst College in 2001 and his master’s degree from Grand Valley State University in 2009. Adam has spent the last 18 years serving individuals with disabilities in Kalamazoo County. As Principal of the Young Adult Program at the Kalamazoo Regional Education Service Agency (KRESA), Adam is committed to developing programs through a collaborative team approach that creates a shared vision to prepare all students to live a meaningful and purpose-filled life.

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The Southwest Michigan Miracle League does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of board members or employees, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all board members, employees, volunteers, contractors and subcontractors, vendors, and clients.