When Yukon’s Spirit League began 10 years ago, it involved about 10 people playing baseball.
Today, the program has grown to more than 75 athletes with special needs who play baseball, basketball and indoor soccer.
And while the first games were played at the Jackie Cooper Center, today the league has a field of its own at Taylor Park, just off Main Street.
A fundraiser planned for later this month will be used to help generate funds to improve the site, said Yukon Parks and Recreation Director Jan Scott.
- Calvin Field is where the city-sponsored Spirit League plays baseball. Scott said the field has rubberized baselines to aid wheelchairs and walkers for the participants. However, concrete is needed to make the bleacher area more accessible.
The cost of the project, she said, is about $11,000. The city’s Friends of the Park organization will donate a portion of the money. Meanwhile, Vernon Turner, a former Yukon High School athlete, who was named the Gatorade Athlete of the Year for Oklahoma, has donated $1,000 to the league, said Scott.
“The field is nice now, but the walk up to the bleachers is pretty big gravel, which can make it difficult,” she said. Scott said it is hoped that enough money can be raised through the event to meet their goal.
The Spirit Sprint will be held Aug. 26 at Chisolm Trail Park, and includes a family walk, a 5k-run, a mutt strut and stroller mamma event.
In addition, there will be a number of pet vendors as well as food trucks at the event.
After the fun run, there also will be family activities that include train rides and games.
“You can buy a wrist band for $5 and do everything for two hours,” Scott said.
Ashley Ragsdale, whose family helped start the Spirit League, said it is a way to get those with disabilities involved with activities.
She said the league began about 10 years ago when her son, J.C., wanted to participate in activities.
J.C. is afflicted with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, which is a type of epilepsy.
“There wasn’t anything for him to do. We had the idea for the league and came to the city and we did it together,” she said.
Ragsdale is the wife of Randy Ragsdale, former member of the alternate country band Cross Canadian Ragweed. The league was started as an outlet of Mandi’s Ministry, a foundation formed after Randy Ragsdale’s sister died in a car accident in 2001.
Amy Ragsdale said about 75 special needs athletes participate in the Spirit League.
“There is no age limit,” she said.
“I am extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished. That’s what I am here to do … to help others. If I can come up with something, we will do it. I enjoy watching everyone have fun,” she said.
The Spirit Sprint will begin at 8 a.m. The entry fee is $30 until Aug. 25. The fee on the day of the race is $40.
To register, go to www.raceentry.com and type in Spirit Sprint, or drop by the Jackie Cooper Gym.