ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - There was a miracle in Rock Hill on Wednesday just in time for Christmas - a groundbreaking for Miracle Park that is.
The official groundbreaking was held for the all-inclusive public facility which city leaders say will be the first of its kind in the nation.
“The legacy that comes from the effort that we see here today-- the smiles on faces for families in Rock Hill and around this entire community-- what a difference it makes,” said South Carolina Majority Leader Gary Simrill who represents York County.
Miracle park is a 15-acre, $8 million facility that has been more than two years in the making. Wednesday’s groundbreaking brought together the York County Disabilities Foundation, which is the nonprofit behind the park, Governor Henry McMaster, US representative Ralph Norman, SC Representative and Majority Leader Gary Simrill, Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys, leaders from Winthrop University and many others who have been working together to make the project happen.
“Everybody can come here and play,” said Miracle Park Executive Team member Warren Norman, who acknowledged that while the park is built with the special needs community in mind, the ultimate goal is to bring people of all abilities together in one place. “It’s something that sets Rock Hill apart from everywhere else, in addition to all of the great things we have going on.”
Miracle Park will be home to five ball fields, including two miracle fields which are custom-designed to accommodate wheelchairs. It will also include an all-inclusive playground, a coffee shop and a retail store aimed at employing and training people with all abilities. While there are inclusive playgrounds and ball fields around the country, park designers say this is the first place to bring all of these elements together in one place.
“It’s because we care for each other,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “We get to work and do things to make South Carolina an even better place to live, work and raise a family- and this is a perfect example of it.”
The park was originally set to have its groundbreaking a year ago, but because Winthrop University is leasing the land to the Disabilities Foundation, organizers say they had to sort through the legalities with the state. Members of the Miracle Park team say the delay was a blessing in disguise as they were able to raise more funds.
The executive team says right now the park has raised $3.7 million with a large majority of that coming from private donations and $500,00 from the City of Rock Hill.
Leaders say they will continue to work toward raising their $8 million goal as construction gets underway. If you’d like to help, click here.
The first phase of Miracle Park is expected to be finished by late Summer 2020.