Miracle ball field will be named in memory of key advocateWoodbury’s miracle baseball field for children with disabilities will be named for a man who helped build the first such field in Minnesota.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Woodbury’s miracle baseball field for children with disabilities will be named for a man who helped build the first such field in Minnesota.
The venue, which will be built amid the regular fields at the Bielenberg Sports Center, will be known as the Jeff Hanson Miracle League Field, in memory of the long-time Woodbury resident who was the former executive director of the Minnesota Utility Contractors Association (MUCA).
Hanson, who served at MUCA for about 15 years, died in 2006, shortly after seeing the successful construction of Minnesota’s first miracle ball field in Blaine.
At the official opening of that miracle field, Hanson said, “This field is about giving every child the opportunity to play baseball outside on their own field.
“Our members came to this project with dedication in their hearts and a commitment to make this dream come true.”
Now, two years after his death, his colleagues and friends at MUCA — which is based on Currell Boulevard in Woodbury — have thrown their support behind the dream to bring an adaptive baseball field to the city.
DeAnn Stish, Hanson’s successor as the executive director of MUCA, said the members of MUCA, who will donate time, equipment, resources, money and services for the construction of the $330,000 miracle field in Woodbury, were dedicated to the project.
“MUCA has a long history of community service,” she said.
“I think this coming year is going to be a difficult one; given the economy it’s a real challenge for folks to donate when business isn’t going as well, but I have no doubt that they will rise to the challenge of getting the field completed.
“I think the special connection is with the field being named for Jeff [Hanson]. He thought a lot of the miracle field projects, and this one is in his home city.”
Charlie Wilson, the miracle field project manager and the president of Minnesota Utilities and Excavating, has a special motivation for being involved with the project; Jeff Hanson was a close friend of his.
“He has done a lot for the community and a lot for me, so we are doing it for him basically, along with the kids, of course,” said Wilson, who was also the project manager for the first Minnesota miracle field in Blaine.
He recalled the opening game on the Blaine field with affection.
“I tell you what, I was crying and there were a lot of people crying,” said Wilson.
“It’s kind of neat to see all those kids and see how much they smile out there.”
The Jeff Hanson Miracle League Field is a joint project between MUCA, the Miracle League of Minnesota, the city of Woodbury and the Rotary Club of Woodbury, with a construction start hoped for next spring or summer.
The city has donated the land for the field, while the Rotary Club has pledged to raise the $130,000 needed for the actual construction costs. So far, donations and fundraisers have totaled $21,700.
The Rotary Club’s paver fundraiser kicked off at the Woodbury Days festival in August. People wishing to donate to the project can purchase a $125 paver inscribed with a personal message.
The brick pavers, made from 95 percent recycled tires and plastics, will be installed at the miracle field ahead of its opening.
“Woodbury Days went very well,” said Rotarian Alan Henaman. “People that stopped were just very, very grateful for the Rotary Club taking on this project along with our partners, of course.
“We had two different families that both had kids with physical or mental challenges, and they were really expressing a lot of support for this field in Woodbury as opposed to them having to travel to [existing fields in] Blaine or Minnetonka.”
Send donations to Woodbury Rotary Club, PO Box 25582, Woodbury, MN 55125, or visit the website www.woodburymnrotary.org.