The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation (CRSF) today announced the organization, in partnership with the Greenville Department of Parks and Recreation and the Exceptional Community Baseball League (ECBL), plans to refurbish the Sarah Vaughn Field of Dreams in Greenville.
Baseball Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken, Jr. was joined by Steve Salem, President & Executive Director of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation; Gary Fenton, Director of Greenville Parks and Recreation; and Britt Laughinghouse, President of the CRSF Greenville Board of Trustees, along with other community partners and donors to announce the official launch of the project. The new baseball and youth sports facility is specifically designed to meet the needs of children with physical and mental disabilities.
During the event, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper discussed the State's continued involvement Ripken Foundation's Badges for Baseball program and Greenville Mayor Allen M. Thomas proclaimed April 10, 2012 as "Cal Ripken Day."
"When we started the Foundation ten years ago, we wanted to help kids and pay tribute to our dad," said Cal Ripken, Jr., Baseball Hall of Famers and co-founder of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. "However, we never imagined we would be able to do so much for kids across the country. We now have a model that we are bringing to many other communities. I want to thank all of the people who helped make this possible and we are thrilled that children with special needs from Greenville and beyond will benefit from this wonderful field."
The Exceptional Community Baseball League originally began as part of Greenville's Little League division called Challenger League, which was followed by the development of the Sarah Vaughn Field of Dreams at the Elm Street Park to provide the special needs population of Greenville and the surrounding areas with a baseball program. ECBL currently offers three divisions, including: Youth (ages 5 to 14); Senior Youth (ages 15 to 24); and an Adult division ages 25 and up.
"The City of Greenville is extremely grateful for the on-going support that has been provided to us by the Cal Ripken Senior Foundation, and we look forward to being able to tell that to Cal Junior in person. Baseball is big here in Greenville, and we believe it should be available to all youngsters," said Mayor Allen M. Thomas. "A visit to our city by such a caring and accomplished man as Cal Ripken -- right at the start of our baseball season - is more than we could ask for. We look forward to welcoming him to our community."
Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.), a charity partner of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, provided over 3,000 new Lego toys worth $39,000 during the ceremony, as well as for use towards any additional on-going programs throughout the year.
"We welcome the opportunity to join forces with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation for a second year, to send a message of hope to these deserving children," said Janice Weinman, President of K.I.D.S. We look forward to continuing to provide new toys, books, shoes and athletic gear to the children who will be playing on the Sarah Vaughn Field of Dreams for years to come."
The initiative is part of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation's national Youth Development Park initiative, which was developed to provide at-risk youth in select neighborhoods safe places to play and learn. The goal is to develop 50 unique, multi-purpose, low maintenance fields with synthetic turf, which will provide a cohesive recreational and educational experience for underserved young people across the United States. The first Youth Development Parks was unveiled in December 2010 at the old Memorial Stadium site in Baltimore, Md. Since then, completed parks have been unveiled in Richmond, Va., Aberdeen, Md. and Houston Texas.