By Sue Moore
“The Night of Miracles,” an evening of baseball for kids with disabilities, will take place at the Dome on US-131 in Schoolcraft from 6:30-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. It will feature the first-ever Southwest Michigan Miracle League baseball team playing against a team from the West Michigan Miracle League in Rockford. It is also a stop on the Christmas Walk taking place in downtown Schoolcraft.
Stryker Corp. executive Jim Heath and his wife, Marsha, will be hosting the exhibition event. David Olson of Vicksburg has been instrumental in getting the League rolling but has been slowed by health issues. Jud Hoff, a former Stryker executive living in Portage, is chairman of the 501c3 Miracle League board, with Josh Baird from Vicksburg as vice president. Bill Deming, former parks and recreation director from Portage, has been closely involved in designing the facility. Board member Wade Rutkowski of Schoolcraft is doing a lot of the outreach to the area communities.
“It’s a great opportunity to watch kids with disabilities experience the joy of playing baseball and the camaraderie of being on a team and making new friends,” said Hoff. In addition to the game, they hope to provide information about the Miracle League and how fans can help the organization raise the $1.1 million needed to build a Miracle Field in Schoolcraft. It is intended to serve the children and families in the southwest Michigan area.
Heath was raised in Detroit, graduated from Kalamazoo College with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and taught history and economics at Notre Dame High School in Detroit. While pursuing his master’s degree in Sports Administration from Ohio State University, he served as a member of the Ohio State University football coaching staff during his two years on campus. He later accepted a position as assistant football coach at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M.
While head coach in football and baseball at Kalamazoo College in 1985, he was assistant professor of Physical Education during his three-year tenure. He then joined the Stryker Corporation in May of 1988 as Manager of Training for the Surgical Division. He has held numerous positions of increasing responsibility over the past 24 years. He has been in his current position of President, Stryker Instruments, for the past two years. Jim and Marsha live in Richland and want to show their support for the Miracle League by hosting the first-ever event of this kind at the Dome.
The event is free but organizers would like to get a count of those planning to attend. Registration can be done on http://www.SWMImiracle.org.