Legends On Deck

Fort Myers Miracle Host 11th Annual D3-Disability Baseball Camp

On May 7, 2016, I was invited to be a part of the 11th annual D3-Disability Dream & Do baseball camp hosted by the Minnesota Twins Class-A affiliate, the Fort Myers Miracle at Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.

D3 Disability Dream & Do baseball camps are given by the Dave Clark Foundation, which allows children with disabilities an opportunity to participate and learn baseball skills with their heroes on the diamond. One of the best parts of the camp is when the professional athletes take part in the event. The players learn very quickly how special it is to be involved and most walk away with an extra appreciation for the campers.

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Photo by David Conde/LOD

Along with the Miracle, the Twins Triple-A affiliate Rochester Red Wings, New York Mets Double-A affiliate Binghamton Mets, and the Milwaukee Brewers Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds, have all hosted and continue to work with the Dave Clark Foundation in putting together the amazing event.

Upon my arrival to the stadium, which was a few hours before the campers actually arrived, I found Dave and his foundation manager Doug Cornfield speaking with a husband and wife and their two children. The couples daughter was being honored for the Pulling Each Other Along Award, which as noted on Dave Clark’s website:

The award honors the notable contributions of those who have helped others achieve their dreams under exceptional circumstances. All Winners are honored at D3 events.

This young lady, 11-year old Makenzie Lawrey, was being honored for standing in the gap for her little brother Gavin who suffers from Mitochondrial Disease. Makenzie authored of a book called Mighty Mito Superhero, which she wrote to honor Gavin and bring attention to the illness and how it affects so many children especially with the fact that there isn’t at the moment a cure. 

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(L to R) Gavin, Doug Cornfield, Dave Clark, and McKenzie. (Photo by David Conde/LOD)

The book, along with her continued effort to raise money for a cure, has raised so far nearly $175,000.  Truly an amazing feat for this family. But she is not done, because she hopes to raise $1 million.

These are just one of the many lives that the Dave Clark Foundation has touched with this amazing honor. The award was launched because of the kind acts received from those who provided encouragement throughout Dave Clark’s incredible journey.

The life of Dave Clark is a great American story that not many people know about. Dave Clark, a native of Corning, New York, contracted polio as an infant. The illness left him without the full use of his legs and with many questions of living a normal childhood.

But he never allowed his inabilities to stop him from living out his dreams. Clark, with the use of his crutches, played over 40 years of baseball at different levels. But not just baseball with his friends on the sandlot, Clark actually played professional baseball and even starred on the diamond. He has amazed so many people with his will to overcome so many obstacles in his life and to be successful in the sport that he loves.

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Dave Clark and Doug Cornfield speak with Miracle ball players. (Photo by David Conde/LOD)

The camp itself started in the early part of the morning after Dave Clark took time to speak with the Miracle ball players to prepare them for what they were about to witness and inspire them with the amazing story of his own life travels.

Along with Clark, was Dave Stevens, who was born without legs and still achieved his goals of playing professional baseball. Both David Clark and Dave Stevens were icons on the field, two men who fought through so much adversity and doubt in their own lives to achieve greatness. They are two men with truly an inspirational message of never giving up on anything you can dream about.

After meeting with the ball players, the day started with the arrival of the campers, each along with family members and huddling around waiting for the event to get started.

As the players walked out onto the field, the excitement in the eyes of these young people was very overwhelming and truly made for an amazing day about to take place.

Clark addressed all in attendance and thanked them for coming and being a part of the camp.

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Dave Clark addresses the families and participants of the camp along with Dave Stevens and the Miracle baseball team in the rear. (Photo by David Conde/LOD)

All participants were separated into groups with at least two ball players. There were stations set up with each camper either participating in hitting, throwing, or fielding drills. As I walked around the camp witnessing all the smiles and laughter from everyone and it was very contagious. You could see how the Miracle players were very relaxed and truly enjoyed the monumental moments with each child they encountered.

For one day, the Fort Myers Miracle weren’t the center of attention as they are used to being on the diamond, but for just one day they were witnesses to the best of what the D3-Disability Dream and Do camps can give. Just to be able to play a game with kids, not overlooking their disabilities, but embracing the fact that each child had their own amazing qualities that came out as their smiles grew larger throughout the morning sessions.

The D3-Disability Dream and Do baseball camps are such a great event and even though I have been a part of a few, nothing is more remarkable then to continue to come out and witness the amazing connections and friendships being created on the diamond.

Special note:

The Green Carpet HOPE Gala, a special fundraising event, will take place on Saturday June 11 at the Lexington Country Club in Fort Myers, FL. All funds for the Million Dollar mission supports the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.

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Photos by: David Conde/LegendsOnDeck.com

David Conde

David Conde

Co-Founder/Executive Editor at Legends On Deck®
David is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Legends On Deck®. He was a Senior Editor for MetsMerizedOnline, MetsMinors.net and Contributor for Hardballchat.com. David along with John Ginder created Legends on Deck to be the site where passionate fans of the game have a place to read about their favorite baseball teams. The site was also created for people who had a talent to write or even take photographs and have the platform to share. The passion of following the Minor Leagues can be seen all over the site as the players journey's are what what drives the LOD team to share their content. David's passion is making available a site that people can have fun sharing and reading.

You can also reach out to David at daconde@legendsondeck.com
David Conde