LADF and Partners Dedicate First Universally Accessible Dodger Dreamfield at Baldwin Hills Recreation Center

Gonzalez, Kershaw and Pederson on hand for dedication of first Miracle League field in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) dedicated its first universally accessible Dodgers Dreamfield for youth with disabilities at Baldwin Hills Recreation Center, located at 5401 Highlight Place in Los Angeles, earlier today. This new ADA accessible field is the 38th Dodgers Dreamfield and its creation was also made possible by several partners including the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, LA84 Foundation, the Miracle League, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and Security Benefit. Adrian and Betsy Gonzalez, Clayton and Ellen Kershaw and Joc Pederson and brother Champ Pederson were on hand for today's dedication. Dodger broadcaster Alanna Rizzo served as emcee.

"We are so proud to provide a place for children with special needs to enjoy our nation's pastime and all the added benefits of the game," said Nichol Whiteman, Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Executive Director. "We are thankful for the enthusiastic support of our players and partners who truly brought this miracle to life. When children are on this field, everyone plays, everyone scores, everyone runs home. It's a Dreamfield in every sense of the word."

Joining Whiteman for today's program were Stan Kasten, Dodger President and Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles City Council President Herb J. Wesson, Jr., Council District 10, Michael Shull, General Manager, City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, Anita DeFrantz, LA84 Foundation President, Chuck Brady, Cal Ripken, Sr., Foundation Vice President, Korie Henry, Security Benefit Regional Vice President, and Stephanie Davis, Miracle League National Vice President of Programs. The dedication was followed by a Miracle League exhibition game. 

This $650,000 project marks the first Miracle League field in Los Angeles.

"This is a great day for youth with disabilities in the Los Angeles area who are often denied opportunities to participate in sports," DeFrantz said. "They now have a universally accessible Dodgers Dreamfield in which they can experience the magic of sports. We are pleased to have partnered with the LADF and others to have this field become a reality. We encourage youngsters with disabilities to come out and use the field and parents and others to volunteer and assist as needed."

"The Department of Recreation and Parks is incredibly grateful to LADF for their contributions and support in providing an accessible baseball field that will allow children of all abilities to have the traditional ballfield experience," Shull said. "This will be the first Universal Accessible Dodgers Dreamfield at Baldwin Hills Recreation Center in South L.A, and we look forward to its opening day."

"Today is a very exciting day as special needs youth and their families gain access to a state-of-the-art, universally accessible baseball field," Wesson said. "The Dodgers organization has a rich history of making baseball accessible to all, including early on by signing Jackie Robinson to the team, a move that ultimately broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball."

"The tremendous partnership between the Dodgers and The Miracle League is the result of both organizations coming together making a difference in the lives of all children no matter their abilities. This project will enrich the lives of children with disabilities as well as their families and their communities. It demonstrates to children with disabilities that they are not limited by their disability but can take advantage of such an opportunity to play America's favorite pastime-baseball, just like their brothers, sisters and friends. When a kid crosses home plate it will give their parents such joy to see their child playing baseball just like all other boys and girls."

"We cannot change or cure the medical issues life has dealt children with disabilities," said Miracle League Executive Director Diane Alford. "What we can do is provide them with an opportunity to experience the joy and benefits through the game of baseball. A special thank you to the Dodgers and their foundation for being a part of Making Dreams come true."

"This is a wonderful day for the kids in Los Angeles," said Steve Salem, President of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. "We're honored that the LA Dodgers Foundation and the Miracle League have allowed us to help them in a small way to make it possible for children with special needs to have a fun and safe place to play."

"We are proud to be a partner in this Dreamfield for kids of all abilities," Henry said. "The Dodgers' Dreamfield program is an outstanding example of investing not only in our children, but in our communities. We hope this field inspires acceptance and compassion while giving all children a place to play with boundless opportunities."

LADF's Dodgers Dreamfield at Baldwin Hills Recreation Center is an all-new ADA accessible field that was constructed in a location in the park that was an asphalt play area. The field features an adaptive synthetic turf surface to allow free movement of wheelchairs and walkers. The baseline field features black vinyl chain-link fencing including a backstop, side line and home run fencing. The dugouts are oversized with metal roofs for shade and protection from the elements. Energy efficient LED field lighting allows for safe extended play on the field. A large scoreboard area with signage and video board resembles the scoreboard at Dodger Stadium. Elements surrounding the field include concrete pathways, spectator bleachers, a drinking fountain and a scorekeeper's table. A partner monument, in the shape of a small backstop, carries signage recognizing all partners and donors and black tube steel perimeter fencing extends around the field.

Miracle League Los Angeles will play at the universally accessible Dodgers Dreamfield at Baldwin Hills Recreation Center. Miracle League is an organization that gives all children, no matter their ability, the opportunity to play baseball. Miracle League Los Angeles invites the community to volunteer, make a donation or join as a sponsor. For details, please visit www.miracleleaguela.org or email jeremy@miracleleaguela.org.

The Dodgers Dreamfields program is one of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation's signature initiatives and its goal is to provide baseball fields where youngsters can learn the game of baseball in an organized program that is administered by the city or county in a safe environment while learning the importance of playing team sports and key characteristics such as sportsmanship, ethics and fair play.

About the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation

The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation uses baseball- and softball-themed programs to help build character and teach critical life lessons to underserved youth across America. Founded in 2001 by members of the Ripken family in memory of their patriarch Cal, Sr., the Foundation works to create programs that positively impact youth through active community partnerships with America's most successful youth service organizations. The Ripken Foundation uses the baseball and softball field to help teach life's critical lessons to young people and is also designing and building Youth Development Parks, multi-purpose, synthetic surface fields to give kids a clean and safe place to play and learn. The Ripken Foundation has impacted over 1 million kids nationwide.

About the Department of Recreation and Parks

The Department of Recreation and Parks maintains over 16,000 acres of parkland with over 430 neighborhood and regional parks, 184 recreation centers and facilities, 368 children's play areas, 321 tennis courts, 256 ball fields, 31 senior centers, 13 golf courses, nine dog parks, 24 skate parks, 61 swimming pools, 12 museums and an urban forest of one million trees and 92 miles of hiking trails. The Department also provides after school enrichment programs for children and teens including music, dance, and athletic programs. For more information about the Department of Recreation and Parks, please visit www.laparks.org.

About the LA84 Foundation

The LA84 Foundation was established to manage Southern California's share of the surplus from the successful 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The Foundation received an endowment of $93 million. Since it began operations in 1985, it has invested more than $225 million back into the communities that supported the Games, supporting more than 3 million youth in the eight Southern California counties of Los Angeles, Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura. Its headquarters is the historic Britt House near downtown Los Angeles where it houses the world's premier sports library and meeting facilities. The Foundation provides grants to youth sports organizations, manages programs, including a coaching education program, and convenes numerous forums for the exploration of the most pressing issues in sport. For more information, please visit www.la84.org.

About The Miracle League

The Miracle League was established in Conyers, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, in 2000 with an aggressive plan to orchestrate a special Miracle League Baseball Program and construct a specially built rubber sports surface fields around the globe. The goal is to build as many Miracle League complexes as possible in order to serve children with special needs. Presently the Miracle League is approaching over 300 Miracle Leagues across the country including Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico and Australia, serving over 250,000 children and young adults. The Miracle League will enrich the lives of children with disabilities as well as their families and their communities. It demonstrates to children with disabilities that they are not limited by their disability but can take the advantage of such an opportunity to play America's favorite pass time baseball, just like their brothers, sisters and friends. 

About Security Benefit

Security Benefit Life Insurance Company is a 123-year-old, Kansas-based insurance company, that has become one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. retirement market. Through a combination of innovative products, exceptional investment management and a unique distribution strategy, Security Benefit is a leader in a full range of retirement markets and wealth segments. To learn more about Security Benefit, visit www.securitybenefit.com.