One of the most fulfilling things about working on the Friends of Delray project is highlighting Delray Beach residents who are doing amazing work in the community. FOD Board member, Gregg Weiss, sat down with one of these people, Julia Kadel, co-founder and executive director of The Miracle League of the Palm Beach County. What follows is a transcript of his interview with her.
Friends Of Delray: Julia, we’re so excited to have you with us today to talk about Miracle League.
Julia Kadel: Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about Miracle League. We truly appreciate the support and the opportunity to create awareness about our incredible athletes.
Friends Of Delray: Can you describe the mission of Miracle League?
Julie Kadel: The Miracle League is a sports league for individuals with special needs with a tagline of “Every Child Deserves A Chance To Play Baseball."
It is our mission to enrich, expand and diversify lives in Palm Beach County. We’re focused on providing opportunities for all children and adults to play baseball regardless of their ability. We have created a safe and inclusive place for individuals with physical and mental disabilities to participate in a team sport.
The Miracle League of Palm Beach County also allows participants to mutually teach, guide and inspire each other by offering avenues to achieve physical and emotional well-being. Although the Miracle League is recognized by its athletic name, Baseball & Cheerleading is primarily a vehicle to encourage kindness, compassion, creativity and generosity in the community while changing lives in the process.
Friends Of Delray: What was the inspiration for founding Miracle League?
Julie Kadel: Our short answer is …that this is where God lead us. Long answer is that Jeff and I felt truly blessed in our lives and wanted an opportunity to share our blessings with others in our own unique way. We wanted to not only give back to our community but be positive role models for our three boys. Jeff has coached in Delray Beach for over 20 years, and I am a Health Coach, a former local PE teacher and Cheerleading Coach.
Back in 2004. We watched an HBO special on The Miracle League that was starting in Georgia. Jeff and I watched this with tears in our eyes and said this is what we can do. It just seemed like a natural fit for our family. We started in fundraising in 2005 and played our first game in 2007. We started off with 20 special needs athletes and now have over 150+ athletes and growing.
Friends Of Delray: While Miracle League has had such tangible impact on so many over the years, can you share one or two successes or accomplishments you’re especially proud of?
Julie Kadel: Honestly, I am so proud of everything we have accomplished, but I’ll try: One, for sure, is our barrier-free playground. It took us over two years to raise the funds and it’s something we’ve never created or designed before but we’re incredibly proud to offer the first playground in Delray Beach that is accessible to all and especially to the Miracle League families.
And two is the growth and the acceptance from our families. Jeff and I do not have a child with special needs and we don’t come from the non-profit world but the love, support and acceptance from our parents is overwhelming. The feedback is always positive and genuine. We all really have become a family.
Friends Of Delray: What are some of the immediate needs Miracle League has now that some in our audience may be able to assist with?
Julie Kadel: With over 100,000 individuals with special needs in Palm Beach County, our league can be assisted in a few ways.
One is to help us create awareness of our league. Our program is free for our families to participate. We feel that they already have so many medical bills and therapies for their children that they shouldn’t have to worry about paying to play a sport…especially one they never dreamed was once possible.
Two is obviously funding. We are always looking for sponsors & new donors to help continue our program for free and invite more families to come and play with us.
And third is to volunteer. Each athlete is paired up with an able-bodied buddy, to help them either physically play or just to encourage them on the field. We call them Angels in the Outfield. And we’re always looking for great volunteers to work with our athletes, coaches, team mom’s and people to work the concession stand. Anyway, to make sure that their games are special… just like them.
Friends Of Delray: Are there volunteer opportunities with Miracle League?
Julia Kadel: Big time. Our season starts April 1st and runs through May 20th . We are looking for volunteers on Saturday afternoons to come and play with our athletes. We’re also looking for volunteer groups to come out on game days. The kids light up when there are a group of people in the stands cheering and yelling their name, there’s no way to describe how excited they get. Group volunteers can be organizations, church groups, corporate groups, sports teams, you name it we welcome anybody to come out and make it an amazing Saturday.
Friends Of Delray: Before we wrap up the interview, are there any events coming up that you’d like to highlight for our audience?
Julia Kadel: 2023 is an exciting year for us: not only are we planning our spring and fall seasons in both of our locations Delray Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, but the most exciting event for us this year is that we have been awarded to host the 2023 Miracle League All-Star weekend being held November 3rd – 5th. That means anywhere from 600 to 1000 special-needs families from all over the world will come right here to Palm Beach County and play a weekend of baseball. So we’re super excited and super proud to be able to offer our special needs community this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Friends Of Delray: Julia, it’s been a pleasure sitting down and learning about the great work you and your team are doing through The Miracle League, thanks for taking the time today!
Julia Kadel: Gregg, I really appreciate the opportunity to highlight our special-needs athletes and our special-needs community and I want to thank you for all of your kind words and support. It means the world to all of us and we’re blessed to have you on our team. Thank you.
For more information on Miracle League Palm Beach County, go to: https://miracleleaguepalmbeachcounty.com/
Friends of Delray