UNION COUNTY — Playball for Miracles raised over $10,000 in its eighth year for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals local beneficiary, Children’s Specialized Hospital.
Playball for Miracles is a stand-alone event that began in 2005, when founder, Erin Kelly-McGuinness decided to raise funds for the organization after a family friend, Patrick Macnab, was diagnosed with a rare bleeding disorder. McGuinness started the tournament to raise awareness for Patrick’s disease and all other illnesses inflicting children.
The tournament has two divisions, Men’s – won this year by the Razorbacks, and Co-Ed in which the Tad Pools took home the championship trophy. Playball for Miracles has grown immensely in the past eight years. In 2005, six local adult, men’s softball teams gathered to play in the first tournament. In 2006, the tournament doubled in size. Over the course of eight years, Playball for Miracles has raised over $80,000 to support the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals beneficiary, Children’s Specialized Hospital, with the help of generous sponsors, such as Elizabeth NJ Firemen’s Federal Credit Union and the American Softball Association.
“Together, we are ‘Making Miracles Happen – One-Pitch at a Time,’” McGuinness said.
Children’s Specialized Hospital is the largest pediatric rehabilitation healthcare system in the United States. It is the preeminent provider of rehabilitation for children with special needs, serving children affected by brain injury, spinal cord dysfunction and injury, premature birth, autism, developmental delays, and life-changing illnesses. Children’s Specialized has nine sites in New Jersey and treats over 19,000 children each year.
Although the event presents itself as a Charity Softball tournament, activities include much more than just softball. An impressive list of donations were made from local businesses, sports teams and other venues, and then raffled off. The Somerset Patriots, a long-time supporter of the Playball for Miracles group efforts, sent their mascot, Sparkee to entertain both the young and old alike. Finally, the Ultimate Game Truck took up residence in the park for a few hours, offering children a break from the heat, and some competition of their own through video games.
The August tournament resulted from a rescheduled rain-out in the spring, with many teams showing their dedication to the cause and returning to play in the make-up tournament. A few new teams signed on for the summer event. There are teams of all variety, from the competitive to groups of friends playing together just to support the cause. Teams come as from all over, some from right next door, others from all over New Jersey and New York.
For 2013, Playball for Miracles will prepare itself for the Annual Spring tournament, which is scheduled for May 4. McGuinness hopes that they will continue to gain support and include more teams and families. For more info, contact Erin Kelly-McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org
Playball for Miracles is always evolving, looking for ways to get more people and players involved, and constantly looking for ideas on how to expand its fundraising efforts. With the partnership with the Somerset Patriots, Playball for Miracles has already added an Annual Miracle Night at TD Bank Ball Park, and is looking to add other activities that will keep the group in the spotlight all year long.
(Photos courtesy of Play Ball For Miracles)