LEVEL FIELD FOUNDATION


The Miracle League Finds A New Home

Miracle League Banner

The idea came to Burke Adams, a man already established as a pioneer, in 2004. 

Having already formed a revolutionary series of sports leagues for disabled athletes in Upstate New York, Adams dreamt of giving them a place that was truly theirs — a field of dreams.  The skepticism came quickly and forthrightly – from outside cynics and, most painfully, close friends.  Even some of the disabled kids’ parents thought the field would never amount to more than a pipe dream.  An initial fundraising blast of 400 letters to well-stocked corporations netted a mere $1,100.  The vision looked to be impossible, and Burke was thought to be crazy.

On Saturday, a beautiful sun-drenched day in East Greenbush, NY, the “impossible” dream came to fruition.  Jaime M. Adams field, capable of hosting four different sports on a safe playing surface, finally opened its gates after five years of determined fundraising and unparalleled generosity from corporations and neighbors alike.

As Burke held onto a baseball bat with his beloved daughter Jaime, the field’s namesake who sat in her wheelchair beneath him, he looked to be proud, determined, and joyful — not at all crazy.  If anything, Burke Adams was crazy like a fox.  Indeed, as he guided Jaime’s hands to hit the first “pitch” on the field, sending a liner towards third base, he looked more like Jimmie Foxx.

“Play ball!”, he shouted triumphantly.  And they did…

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Jean-Paul and I were privileged to be in attendance for the grand opening of the Capital Region Miracle League’s new field this weekend.  The weather was pristine, the sun shining, the media and politicians all around — but the day was fully and unmistakably about the kids. 

Nearly fifty kids with limited abilities and unlimited heart took the field during a series of three baseball games.  There were big hits, great plays in the field, and even the occasional swing-and-miss — but the smiling players and cheering fans ruled the day.  The fans of all six teams went home happy, and each of the players could be proud of how they performed.  What’s better, they are nomads no more, having been blessed with their own field to be the home base for their weekends and their memories.

The Level Field Foundation is proud to have made a meaningful contribution towards the costs of the field, and we hope to donate further in the future.  We captured a number of photos and some extensive video of this historic day, and we look forward to sharing these images with you in the days to come.  In the meantime, please check-out the Miracle League’s website and consider donating to The Level Field Foundation.

With your help, we can make more impossible dreams come true…

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How Basketball Gave Big Baby His Family (…Back)

Big Baby

Last night, Glen “Big Baby” Davis put years of practice to good use and drained the Celtics’ game-winning shot.  As Dan Shaughnessy noted, it was a shot that childhood dreams are made of.

But while last night’s triumph was filled with joy and validation for Boston’s hefty (in size and talent) star, the poignancy of the moment was even greater because the shot fell – literally and figuratively – on Mother’s Day.

During these playoffs, just like last year’s postseason, Big Baby’s mother Tonya has moved-in with her son and supported him at times of utmost importance.  Sadly, it hasn’t always been this way.  Tonya began using drugs when Glen was seven — and she’s never fully kicked the habit.  Once, at the Louisiana state basketball tournament, mother and son made simultaneous headlines — Glen for being named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and Tonya for being arrested for trying to “participate” in the MVP ceremony while high on drugs.

With his mom in-and-out of the picture, and no father around, young Glen turned to basketball as a sanctuary.  He moved between foster homes with his two sisters, forcing him to “grow-up” even faster than the rapid pace that he was growing physically.  Davis first earned the moniker “Big Baby” for whining after being fouled — but managing his life required a toughness possessed by few. 

Eventually, Glen’s salvation came from Collis Temple, Jr. – a former LSU Center and pioneering African-American athlete who recognized Big Baby’s talent and sympathized with his situation.  Temple brought Davis into his home, nurtured him, and gave stability where there had been none.  Finally blessed with guidance, structure, and someone to believe in him, Big Baby developed into a man with a large-sized work ethic, on- and off-the-court. Watch the  video story on ESPN.

After huge success in high school and a Final Four at LSU, Davis finally made it to the Big-time with the Celtics – but his first two-plus seasons were mostly Baby steps.  Teammate Kevin Garnett famously made him cry during a game, bringing the old nickname to the forefront once again. Undaunted by some discouraging setbacks, coach Doc Rivers still fully believed in his pudgy prodigy, and told him to keep practicing his 20-footers…

Which brings us back to last night.  With seconds on the clock, Ray Allen blanketed, Paul Pierce double-teamed, and KG in street clothes, the ball — and the Celtics season — fell squarely into the big mitts of Big Baby. Without hesitation, Davis buried the shot, quieted the crowd and, in so doing, provided a bittersweet sort of Mother’s Day tribute.

With one flick of the wrist, Big Baby gave hope to the woman who gave him life, and the men who made him a man. But, even with last night’s triumph, the Celtics still have a long road ahead,  and Tonya’s addiction battle is still very much uphill. The challenges for Glen Davis are huge — thankfully, he might just be a little bit bigger.