By Leisa Zigman I-Team Reporter
FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. (KSDK) - It is a field of hopes and dreams that in just a few hours could turn into a field of tears and disappointment for children with special needs.
The Miracle League of Fairview Heights has been raising money and asking for donations over the past eight years. St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny helped the cause and organizers say he donated $100,000 to make it a reality.
The cause is championed by Brenda Wagner, who has worked tirelessly to build a baseball field for special needs children.
"We are a group of individuals who either have a special needs child or have a passion for kids and believe in our motto, 'Every child deserves a chance to play ball,'" said Wagner.
The group has raised $350, and this week construction began on the field. The architect, contractor, and engineer all donated their time and expertise. The community held countless bake sales and the city donated the land.
Parents like Betsy Caines can't wait for her two special needs sons play ball. She said,
"Our kids have a lot of friends who have wheels. They have wheelchairs or walkers and this field will allow them to play baseball and kick ball and allow them to be kids," said Caines.
Fairview Heights Alderwoman Linda Arnold plans to ask the board Tuesday night to stop the project for at least two weeks.
"I don't want to halt the project from happening. I want to enrich the project. Bathrooms for kids are a big deal. As a grandparent, I know what it's like to try to hurry to get to a rest room," said Arnold.
While the overall construction calls for new bathrooms and parking, the first phase just includes the field. Arnold said she hopes she can have bathroom construction donated and is working on it but needs a few weeks to play it out. She also admits there is no violation of state or federal disability laws.
"It actually is a common sense practical issue. Why give kids a place to play and no place to go," she said.
There are bathroom facilities in the park, but those facilities are more than 100 yards away. Arnold says it makes sense to have new bathrooms built closer to the Miracle League Field.
The Caines can't understand why the project has to be delayed at all?
"Why can't the alderman work on the bathrooms while the miracle league construction continues," they asked.
"I'm not a politician. I don't know what the politics are behind it. I'm just a parent and I would just love to get my kids out here playing," said Betsy Caine.
A vote on the delay was Tuesday evening, but the baseball field will go on as planned. The Board of Aldermen voted to continue the project.
Joshua and his friends should be playing ball in 30 days.
For more information on the Miracle League of Fairview Heights, visit their website.