The Daniel Fratto Field for Beautiful People baseball program opens
Hundreds attend the completion of one young man's dream to play sports
WARWICK — It was a cloudy day with occasional drizzle on Sunday, May 20, but the rain held off as hundreds of dignitaries, officials, volunteers and visitors turned out to celebrate the official grand opening of the Daniel Fratto Memorial Field at Wickham Woodlands Town Park.
During the ceremony Town of Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton and Mayor Michael Newhard held the ribbons, provided by the Orange County and Warwick Valley Chambers of Commerce, to be cut by members of the Beautiful People Board of Directors.
A safe surface to play onIn 2011, Daniel Fratto, then a junior at Minisink High School, organized a walk and raised $15,000 to help fund a safe surface rubberized sports field for children who are unable to play mainstream team sports.
Fratto, the son of Mike and Danielle Fratto, was also one of those children.
His combined immune deficiency syndrome prevented him from playing on the field but he performed a valuable service as the official sports announcer for Beautiful People, a non-profit organization that provides adaptive sports for children and young adults with disabilities.
Fratto passed away in December 2012, shortly after he turned 19.
$330,000It's been three years since ground breaking. And after raising approximately $330,000 from individual donors, businesses and major contributions like the Baseball Tomorrow Fund and Subaru's Share the Love Program, that dream was realized.
Specifically designed for children with disabilities, the field has a fully rubberized safe surface and enlarged dugouts to accommodate wheelchairs, service animals and other assistive devices. And it is the only baseball field in Orange County specifically designed for adaptive use.
To build bridgesBeautiful People is a non-profit 501 (3) c organization headquartered in Warwick and directed by Jan Brunkhorst.
It was founded in 2006 by its Chairman Peter Ladka, owner of The GeekHive, a software development company.
The name, Beautiful People, comes from what Ladka and his other organizers wanted to express: "You are beautiful people to us. We want to reach out and be a part of your lives."
Beautiful People's stated mission is "to build bridges between children with disabilities and their families and the broader community of Orange County by providing adaptive sports for children and young adults, age five and up."
The organization operates the Orange County Chapter of Miracle League, a national organization that has been providing baseball for children with disabilities since 2000.
During the grand opening festivities the Beautiful People's teams played baseball on the new field. The players were paired with "buddies" who assisted them as they hit, rounded the bases and fielded the balls.
There are 160 athletes in the baseball program and from 80 to 100 active volunteers.
The all day festival included live music, a raffle and other entertainment along with food and refreshments. The ceremonies were emceed by Chris Olert.
For additional information about Beautiful People Adaptive Sports or to make a donation or volunteer visit www.beautiful-people.us.
- Roger Gavan
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