Players, parents and league officials for Kingston Thunder baseball gathered Sunday and cheered when the Toronto Blue Jays came on the TV to battle the Seattle Mariners.
There was a loud cheer, not for what the Jays did on the field, but rather off the field.
Before first pitch at Rogers Centre in Toronto, it was announced that Kingston was one of a number of cities that have received a grant to go toward baseball in the community.
“For this project, specifically, it’s just going to be a little bit more accessible for the special needs participants that we have,” said Paul Held, Kingston Thunder’s rep director.
The grant, around $65,000 according to Held, will go toward building a brand new, fully accessible ball field in the city’s west end.
It will better serve the participants in Kingston Thunder’s “Challenger Program”, which gives kids with disabilities the chance to learn and play baseball safely.
“I think it’ll be really cool, really cool. I think it’ll be really nice for us,” said Justin Veenstra, a participant in the Challenger Program.
Held said the field will be built at Woodbine Park, on the site of the former BMX track, and that work could get done very quickly if everything goes to plan.
“Woodbine Park is a beautiful place to play ball in the summer, or soccer, or whatever you’re doing in the park and it will just bring the whole community together,” added Held.
The group in the Challenger Program is small, under 20 players right now, but Veenstra and Held both said they hope that a new field will entice more kids with disabilities to come out and learn the game they love so much.
“I hope that everyone gets to do it. If anyone else wanted to join, they’re always welcome to join us,” said Veenstra.