Acworth holds fundraiser for special needs field
by Geoff Folsom
gfolsom@mdjonline.com
September 16, 2012 01:55 AM | 2452 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Volunteer Allison Diemer cheers as 6-year-old Nick Freeman crosses home plate during the Orioles and Athletics baseball game on Saturday for the ‘Covering the Bases’ fundraiser. <br> Photo by Jon-Michael Sullivan
Volunteer Allison Diemer cheers as 6-year-old Nick Freeman crosses home plate during the Orioles and Athletics baseball game on Saturday for the ‘Covering the Bases’ fundraiser.
Photo by Jon-Michael Sullivan
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ACWORTH — By noon Saturday, Acworth Police Chief Wayne Dennard had been at Horizon Field in Kennworth Park since before the 24-hour “Covering the Bases” event started 17 hours earlier. And he wasn’t planning to go home anytime soon.

“He’s the chief,” Mayor Tommy Allegood said. “The chief never gets tired.”

Allegood said the event draws “thousands” to the ballfield, which was built for special needs children and adults. Covering the Bases serves as the primary fundraiser for the field and league, which has summer and fall baseball seasons, as well as a summer kickball league.

“If we have an event that’s steeped in tradition (in Acworth), this is the one,” the mayor said. “We’re setting another record today. You are here in record setting territory.”

Though final numbers weren’t available, Dennard said organizers were expecting to raise $20,000, bringing the five-year total for Covering the Bases to $100,000. Activities included live music, a showing of the movie “Big Miracle,” an all-night softball tournament, as well as the start of the Horizon League’s six-week fall season.

Police heard about the need for a special needs sports league in Acworth and helped organize the initial event, Dennard said. The first one, held on a dirt field, raised money for a ballfield with a synthetic rubber surface, which allows for players in wheelchairs and walkers to move around freely.

The police department provides coaches for two teams in the summer and fall leagues, as well as one in summer kickball. Dennard said seeing the kids play and parents watch makes it worth it.

“The kids get a chance to play on the field who might not otherwise get to play,” he said. “For just an hour each Saturday, the parents get to cheer for their children, just like the parents of the kids on this other field.”

Lauren Ham, special populations coordinator for the Acworth Parks & Recreation Department, said 180 kids play in the Horizon youth league, for ages 5-12. That’s up from 158 this time last year. The league continues to expand, with eight teams in 2009 and 14 teams currently, which will rise to 16 next spring.

Since 12 people help out with each team, the league is always looking for volunteers.

“KSU comes out, they’re a big help,” Ham said. “Each high school adopts a team.”

The Horizon League currently puts on soccer clinics, and would eventually like to add soccer and basketball leagues, Ham said.

“It’s a great organization,” she said. “You have so much community support. It just gives the parents a sense of relief and belonging to know that their kids are part of a team.”

Robin Boyer, a board member with the Acworth Special Needs Development Foundation, has a 20-year-old daughter, Alison, who participates in the Horizon League. She said Covering the Bases helps with maintaining the field and keeping the program going.

“It’s exciting, it brings the whole community out here,” she said. “It’s for the special needs community and the whole community to come together and have fun and do good.”

For information about participating in or volunteering with the Horizon League, contact Ham at (770) 917-1234 or lham@acworth.org.
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