WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - Members of the Albertus Magnus College women's swimming & diving team took part in the annual Miracle League of Connecticut trick-or-treat event this past Saturday afternoon at Miracle League Field.
The Miracle League of CT provides opportunities for Connecticut's children with physical and cognitive challenges to participate in recreational, educational and cultural activities in an accessible, nurturing and noncompetitive environment where families can come together to cultivate new friendships and experience the joy of play. Each fall the Miracle League of CT hosts a trick-or-treat event that brings more than 40 local business, civic and family groups together on the field to create an accessible neighborhood for children with special needs in the area.
Kendall Pallone, daughter of Head Swimming and Diving Coach Lauren Pallone, has participated in Miracle League and other activities sponsored by the Miracle League of Connecticut for the past five years, since the age of 4. Coach Pallone's daughter was born 11 weeks prematurely and spent most of the early years of her life in and out of the hospital. Kendall's overlying diagnosis is Cerebral Palsy which can affect movement, muscle tone and posture. It is caused by damage that occurs in the immature brain. Kendall also has hydrocephalus, a Chiari Malformation and brain bleeds on both hemispheres of her brain. In layman's terms, Kendall has brain damage is every part of her brain. Kendall spends most of her time in a wheel chair that she can control using her head, she is non-verbal and uses a talker with an eye tracking system to communicate, she receives her nutrition through a feeding tube, and has undergone 14 brain surgeries, 3 stomach surgeries, 3 spinal surgeries, and many other orthopedic surgeries. Kendall attends public school and in an average week gets 12 hours of therapy, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, feeding therapy and speech therapy. Of the 11 specialists Kendall sees, she has them down to three month follow ups which is an improvement from monthly visits.
Despite having tons of obstacles thrown in her path, Kendall has overcome so much and typically does so with a smile on her face. She is strong, determined, and at times quite sassy. Mom says these are the qualities that have not just pushed her to overcome so many difficult times but to fight and survive.
In many ways Kendall is a typical 9-year-old. She loves the movie Descendants, where at this year's Miracle League Trick or Treat event she was Mal the daughter of Maleficent. She loves spending time with friends, reading books, she loves animals (as long as they are not bigger than her), can be caught "singing" along to songs, and she absolutely loves sports. She loves taking selfies on Instagram and snapchat and using the different filters. Kendall plays baseball, participates in unified sports at school, and attends sporting events as much as she can. She loves to watch soccer, basketball, and of course swimming.
Coach Pallone says that the past teams she has worked with have all volunteered with the miracle league at some point. "I think it's important for the student-athletes to get a glimpse into my life with Kendall and it might explain why I coach the way I do. We are in a world where more and more people are standing up for those with different abilities, and it is my responsibility to help educate outside of the water just as much as it to coach our swimmers and divers in the pool." The philosophy of this program is to become a better student, a better athlete, and a better person within the four years we have to guide them. College is all about life lessons; the good, the bad, and the unexpected."
Albertus swimmer Megan Anderson (Levittown, N.Y.), who attended the event says, "The Miracle League is incredible in being about providing so much happiness and support in one place, and continuously bringing people together while creating smiles."
The Miracle League of CT provides opportunities for Connecticut's children with physical and cognitive challenges to participate in recreational, educational and cultural activities in an accessible, nurturing and noncompetitive environment where families can come together to cultivate new friendships and experience the joy of play.
What makes a "Miracle League Field" So Special?
A Miracle League Field is specifically designed for children with physical and or cognitive challenges. It is made with a rubberized surface that is fully wheelchair accessible. Bases and pitching mounds are painted onto the surfaces so that there are no raised obstacles that you would find on a typical baseball field. The dugouts are enlarged to accommodate wheelchairs and other apparatus. The base path, pitching and outfield fence distances are a bit shorter than a typical Little League field. Other than the items stated above our goal was to make this field in West Hartford appear as similar as possible to "normal" Little League field.
Who can play in The Miracle League of CT?
Boys and girls ages 4 and up who have physical and or cognitive challenges are eligible to play in The Miracle League of CT. We will do our best to make the games adaptable for children with any type of challenge. Our field is fully wheelchair accessible for those who have mobility issues.
What are the Miracle League of CT games like and when are they played?
First and foremost, our games would be considered non-competitive. Mysteriously, all games end up in a tie. Games run for approximately one hour consisting of 2 innings with every player coming to bat in each inning. Games tend to last about an hour or so. We will distribute schedules prior to the start of the season. In the spring all teams play games on Sunday afternoons, additional games maybe be scheduled for weeknights (Mon-Thurs.). Sunday games run throughout the afternoon beginning after 12 p.m. Weeknight games typically begin at 6 p.m. Fall games are on Saturdays later in the afternoon.