By Ukee Washington
GLOUCESTER COUNTY, NJ (CBS) — Two grandparents are looking to make life better for children with disabilities. They’re inspired by their own grandson, and they’ve already made a big difference.
In Gloucester County, it’s time for everyone to play ball, whether they’re on feet or on wheels. The baseball field in Sewell is a Miracle Field, specially designed for disabled young people, who partner with an able-bodied “buddy” to play the game.
Ryan Dougherty, supervisor of special education for BankBridge Regional Schools, explained, “It’s a rubberized surface. This field provides them with an opportunity — wheelchairs, walkers, whatever their special needs may be.”
This is just the kind of field Jim and Lynn Cummings want to build for Camden County. They’ve already built a handicap-accessible playground called Jake’s Place on Bortons Mill Road in Cherry Hill. There are wide ramps for chair access, swings with back support, and lots of ways to play.
Cindy Sharpe, of Cherry Hill, was there with her 1-year-old granddaughter, Emma. “We come here every single day, and she loves it!” Sharpe said.
Jake’s Place was built with volunteer donations in memory of Jim and Lynn Cummings’ grandson Jake, who was born with only half a heart and who suffered two strokes, leaving him paralyzed.
“It’s something that he would have loved,” said Jim.
Sadly, Jake died in 2007. Friends and family formed non-profit, raised funds, and drafted volunteers to make Jake’s Place a reality, and now they hope to do the same for a new Miracle Field nearby.
“This cost $500,000. It took four years to raise it. The Miracle Field is going to cost about $300,000, so I kind of feel we’re two up already!” said Lynn.
It’s a vision they see clearly: Everyone gets to play ball.
The fundraising has just begun, and the Cummings can be contacted at their non-profit, Build Jake’s Place, at 856-662-4418 or through their website, http://buildjakesplace.org/home.html.