A dream that has been years in the making will become a reality Saturday for hundreds of local children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities as the ribbon is cut on the Challenger Miracle Field of Greater Rochester.
The Webster athletic and multi-use facility has wheelchair accessible dugouts and a rubberized field surface to prevent injuries.
Seventeen-year old Niko Santiago, who has a neuromuscular disease, looks forward to playing Challenger Baseball this summer and flag football in the fall.
"It's a place with no worries, basically,” he said. “I don't have to worry about getting into doorways. I don't have to worry about steps. I could call some of my friends and say, 'Hey, you want to play baseball today?' and we'd get a game started there. It makes it a lot easier to have fun, basically."
Ron Kampff, president of Challenger Miracle Field of Greater Rochester, says the opening of the facility is a momentous celebration for the entire community.
"Down the road we envision it being used not just for athletic events. It'll be a cool place to have a movie or a concert. It's very accessible where families, kids, adults can come out and feel special. They are special."
An inclusive playground is planned for the next phase of construction. Organizers have raised $1.2 million through a combination of private donations and state support. They hope to raise another $800,000.
The ribbon will be cut on Miracle Field at 11:00 a.m. Saturday at the Ridge Park Athletic Complex at 1000 Ridge Road in Webster. That will be followed by an exhibition game featuring all nine Rochester-area Challenger Baseball leagues with local media and celebrities serving as baseball buddies for the players.
Lunch will be provided by Wegmans. The event is free and open to the public.
This story is reported from WXXI's Inclusion Desk.