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Ankeny Kiwanis Club Gears Up To Build a Miracle League Field
by Kerry Walter-Ashby
The Ankeny Kiwanis Club, in partnership with the Ankeny Parks and Recreation Department/City of Ankeny, is preparing to lead fundraising efforts to build a Miracle League Field and All-Inclusive Playground in Ankeny.
Since 2007, when Parks and Recreation Director Todd Redenius gave a presentation to the Ankeny club about programming for kids with special needs, Ankeny Kiwanis has sponsored the "Super Kids" and "Super Circuit" programs that provide opportunities for organized recreational activities. The partnership for the MLF/AIP project has been an extension of that sponsorship.
The City of Ankeny through its Ankeny Community Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, is collecting all donations for the project. Already donations are starting to come in, some of them in memory of former Kiwanis Miracle League Board member, Mike Lacey, who passed away in January. Mike was an Elkhart resident, charter member of the Ankeny Kiwanis Club, and very excited about the prospect of having a Miracle League field built in Ankeny.
Contributions (with checks payable to "Ankeny Community Foundation"- memo line "Ankeny Kiwanis" ) may be sent to Ankeny Parks and Recreation, 210 South Ankeny Boulevard, Ankeny, IA 50023 (515-963-3574). Contributions can be pledged over a period of 1 to 3 years. All donors will be recognized on signs/kiosks at the complex entrance by giving category; signs are likely to be similar to those displayed at the High Trestle Trail.
Kiwanis Miracle League Board President Jan Burch said she's very excited about the addition of another Miracle League field in central Iowa. “We have players coming to our field in Des Moines from 34 communities. Some of them are going to find the Ankeny field more convenient and that just creates more openings for other children to be able to play at both locations”.
Inquiries can be sent to Kerry Walter-Ashby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Architect's rendition of the planned Ankeny Kiwanis Miracle League field.
Is It Time to Play Ball Yet?
By Kerry Walter-Ashby
I had a great time at Kiwanis Miracle League's first 2012 player registration/clinic Saturday morning February 18! In preparation for the Spring/Summer Season that kicks off on May 12, participants signed up during a registration clinic and then get in a little practice with KML volunteers. As a new KML board member, I had not yet volunteered during a registration clinic, and I have to say, it was a blast!
Participants who've played in the league walked into the gymnasium where the clinic was held wearing huge smiles and calling out to friends they recognized. While parents completed registration paperwork, the kids rushed out onto the floor, grabbing bats and balls and getting right to it. Several brought their own equipment, and some were already dressed in their team uniforms from last season.
One of the many highlights for me: A gal named Hannah informed me that though she is able to throw well, she struggles to catch the ball. Her father worked with her a bit, and then she and I started playing catch together. At first, yes, she struggled with catching though she could throw beautifully (and hard enough to make me wish I'd grabbed a glove!). Then, something 'clicked' and she started making the catches. Her smile could not have been brighter as she told me later, "I did it! I couldn't do it last year, but today I could do it!" Now I ask you - how great is that?!
All the kids were soooo excited and having such fun, they just would not settle for merely playing catch and practicing their hitting. Oh, no. They wanted to play ball, and by gosh, they did!
They scrimmaged, making sure to stomp on the taped Xs on the floor denoting bases as they ran and scored. Many a hit ricocheted off the gymnasium walls, and there were several instances of a player making a single into a double...or a triple...or what the heck, a full home run. My contribution, besides cheering them on: encouraging the all-important high fives at home plate. What would baseball be without high fives?
I have to express my gratitude that Ava, Hannah, Corey, William, Tucker, Tyler, and Daniel kindly refrained from laughing at my terrible throws. In all seriousness, each child showed incredible patience with me, with all the volunteers, and with each other. With the season still three months away, everyone was just happy to get together and play some ball.
Eagle Scout Project - KML Sports Yard Signs
Drew Yersin, long time Boy Scout and candidate for Eagle Scout, has chosen the Kiwanis Miracle League for his Eagle Project. As some of you may know, a Boy Scout must complete an Eagle Project to become an Eagle Scout. This is Scouting's highest rank and a great honor.
For his project, he has chosen to build sports yard signs for the Kiwanis Miracle League.
His idea for his Eagle Project came from his own Cross Country sign. In talking to a family friend, they said how nice it would be if the MML kids had a similar sign to show their pride and participation in their sport. Long story very, very short, he has planned out the project and designed the signs. In cooperation with the KML, it was decided the League will need 215 signs to be completed by May 9th.
Having completed all the paperwork, and having his proposed project approved, he is ready to start fundraising. After pricing out the wood, paint and other materials needed, the total for the signs comes to approximately $1,800.00. While that sounds like a lot, when you do the math that breaks down to only $8.37 a sign.
Please consider sponsoring a sign or more:
1 Sign - $8.50
3 Signs - $25.00
5 Signs - $40.00
Of course, any and all donations are greatly appreciated for this Eagle Scout Project. All donations are tax deductible if checks are made out to Troop 208. Please mail them to:
13943 Oak Brook Dr.
Urbandale IA 50323
Any funds raised over and above the cost of materials will be donated to the Kiwanis Miracle League to be used for future signs or other needs.
Another big part of this project is volunteers to help build these signs. If you can help, please let him know. Or if you have any questions, please email him or call him after 3:30 pm.
Drew Yersin, Eagle Scout applicant
Whiff-It Raises Funds for the Miracle League!
By Doug Vinsand
It began as an idea over drinks among a few friends back in the summer of 2010. We'd just finished participating in the inaugural Whiffle Ball Classic at the Miracle League in the summer of 2010, but we wanted more wiffle ball and thought Des Moines wanted more as well. Why not have a charity wiffle ball tournament of our own, but involve the best and brightest young professionals around Des Moines? After a few more semi-serious meetings, the first tournament plan was hatched: the initial Fall Whiff It Classic would be held on Saturday, October 23rd, 2010 at the Miracle League field.
Our initial tournament on that chilly October day featured 8 teams. The tournament was a huge success, and plans were immediately made to make Whiff It a bi-annual event, with tournaments in both the spring and fall.
Spring of 2011 saw Whiff It grow to 10 teams. The fall tournament drew 12 teams, and we soon realized that we were out growing the Miracle League field. In response to this we’ve moved the location to Campbell Park in Clive.
We'll be playing on two of the softball fields there, with a goal of 20 teams for our spring tournament - scheduled for Saturday, May 5th.
So far our tournaments have raised over $5,000 for the Miracle League, and we feel this move will help us raise even more going forward. If you're interested in signing up a team, would like to be a sponsor, or volunteer for the event, you can visit www.whiffitdsm.com or reach me at email@example.com for more information.
(Doug Vinsand is Assistant Coach for the Yankees, a member of Young Professional Connections and the Ankeny Kiwanis Club)
Assistant Coaches are Needed
Player Committee Chair Joyce Byrne says we need volunteers to be Assistant Coaches. Our coaches and assistant coaches have an amazing time working with the kids on their team. Time commitment is about 1 hour per Saturday from May 12 through the end of June and from the end of August through mid-October. All we ask is that you commit to be there for at least 50% of the games (coordinating with the Coach for the team you are assigned to.) Beyond that, you might be asked to help contact your players if we have scheduling changes, and to attend the pizza party after the end of the fall season (tough duty!) If you are interested in volunteering, come to the registration clinic on April 21, or contact Joyce via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One More Registration Clinic Scheduled - Don't Miss It!
Saturday April 21, will be our last spring registration clinic. Sign up your child to play ball and order new uniforms. (Everyone gets a new uniform this year!) Come to Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4114 Allison Avenue, Des Moines (corner of Franklin and Beaver Avenues) - between 9:30 and 10:30 AM. Joyce says - “Get ready to Play Ball!”
Even when the Kiwanis Miracle League ball park is shut down for the winter, the Board of Directors and various committees are busy. Monthly meetings of the board continue, and committees like the Players, Fundraising, Facilities, and Volunteer Committees continue to meet.
The board approved an expanded version of its current Background Checking policy at the March meeting last week. In the past, we have performed background checks on coaches and assistant coaches. Beginning this season, we will also perform checks on board members, committee chairs, and committee members, utilizing a new company. Background checks, including the Iowa Child Abuse Registry, will be required every two years.
Naturally, we are always concerned about the safety and well-being of our players, volunteers, and spectators. Expanding this activity will hopefully allow us to maintain a safe and secure environment for all.
News from the KML Fundraising Committee
We really pleased to announce that area Chevy Premier Dealers will again partner with the KML for the 2012 Season. Last year, the Dealers sponsored our Buddy program, providing our "Angels in the Outfield" shirts. Perhaps you noticed the Chevy logo on the sleeves?
The Dealers will again sponsor that program as part of the Chevy Youth Baseball program for 2012. Since we have somewhere around 2,000 buddy volunteers during our spring and fall seasons, this sponsorship is very special to us!
THANK YOU, Chevy Dealers!
We'll also be announcing another fundraising effort through the Dealers later this spring...watch for details!
Sale of Des Moines Coupon Books
Thanks to all who so valiantly tried to sell the remaining DM Coupon Books at the various Hy-Vee stores around the metro these last few weekends.
This turned out to be an effort that just didn't work! While a good idea, the communication from corporate Hy-Vee to the local stores about the project somehow got lost in the shuffle! Kerry Walter-Ashby, Ankeny Kiwanis, seemed to have the best success at the store in Ankeny, selling 11 books. Way to go, Kerry! Others weren't so successful as books seemed to be misplaced or unavailable, placement of tables was poor or even non-existent, etc.
Please continue to encourage your friends and neighbors to purchase the books at the customer service counter at their local Hy-Vee. 100% of the proceeds will benefit the Kiwanis Miracle League. Books cost $25.00, and include $20.00 worth of HyVee coupons, plus many more for restaurants and other local businesses.
Now Is The Time to Be a Team Sponsor
Do you or your employer want to sponsor a Miracle League team? Just a $500 donation will help ensure that our teams get their new uniforms and that we can keep the League running for yet another great year. For more information, visit www.kiwanismiracleleague.org or contact Jan Burch at email@example.com.
Want to Make a Lasting Gift to the Kiwanis Miracle League?
You know what an impact the Kiwanis Miracle League has had on the kids that are playing ball on a team for the first time in their lives. We Board members have seen the smiles, and the growing confidence that these children exhibit. We want to make sure this League continues to serve the children of central Iowa far into the future.
Toward that end, the Kiwanis Miracle League Board has established an Endowment Fund. Thanks to a couple of very generous donors - we have a great start. Eventually we hope we can grow the Endowment Fund so that the League is self-supporting. Your help is needed!
Kiwanis Miracle League is a 501(c)3 organization and your contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. You can make cash donations now, or consider naming the Kiwanis Miracle League as a beneficiary in your Will. Be sure to note on your donations that you'd like your contribution to go toward the Endowment Fund.
Keep the smiles coming - help grow the Endowment Fund for the Kiwanis Miracle League!
It's almost here! Player committee chair, Joyce Byrne, has scheduled the following dates - be sure to put them on your calendar:
Registration Clinic at Westminster Presbyterian Church April 21 from 9:30 - 10:30 AM:
Opening Day is Scheduled
May 12 is Opening Day and we plan to have another great day with lots of fun at opening ceremonies, plus a full day of games. Announcer Al is warming up his vocal chords; Scorekeeper Ron is working on his math skills, and Concessions Manager Bill is getting those hot dogs and Powerades ordered.
Board members will be cleaning and preparing the concession stand, hanging up the outfield banners and making the field ready for the big day. We are currently planning on two work days-Saturday, April 28, and May 5. Watch our web site for further details. All volunteers are welcome!
WE CAN'T WAIT! Be sure to put it on your calendar
Many of our KML Friends are donating to the Kiwanis Miracle League in the name of their friends and loved ones. Should you wish to designate contributions in memory of a loved one or make other types of contributions to the Kiwanis Miracle League, please contact any of our board members.