Buy & Give: Home Fields and High-Fives With Easterseals Miracle League

Buy & Give: Home Fields and High-Fives With Easterseals Miracle League

Discover how Easterseals Miracle League of North Oakland and Millcraft’s Buy & Give program create meaningful impact in Greater Detroit through baseball, buddies, and copy paper.

Dylan can’t walk,
but that doesn’t stop him from rounding second base.

Jennifer has Down syndrome,
but Miracle League has given her more self-esteem than her parents ever dreamed possible.

Kenneth can’t hear,
but the cheers of his teammates have never been louder.

Imagine beaming smiles on the faces of more than 400 kids with special needs in the Greater Detroit Area who can get out in the sunshine and enjoy playing the game of baseball — that’s what Miracle League makes possible. Discover how Todd Mickles, account manager for Millcraft’s Detroit division, is “clutch”, or a significant player behind the scenes of home fields and high-fives with Easterseals Miracle League of North Oakland and Millcraft’s Buy & Give program. 

Paper With Purpose
Established in 2015, Millcraft’s Buy & Give initiative grew out of its mission to create meaningful impact within Millcraft’s communities, and to give back to those in need. The program provides businesses the opportunity to support local charities through routine purchases of Millcraft’s Buy & Give brand office paper. For every carton of paper purchased, Millcraft donates $1 to the program.

Since its inception through 2021, Buy & Give has generated more than $600,000 within Midwest communities served by Millcraft and select charitable organizations, including Easterseals Miracle League of North Oakland. Nationally, Easterseals has been helping individuals with disabilities and special needs - and their families - live better lives for more than 100 years. 

Easterseals Miracle League of Michigan was founded in 2004. As a fiscally autonomous affiliate of the Easterseals National Office, Easterseals Michigan retains every dollar raised; what's given in Michigan stays in Michigan.  The program provides children with behavioral and/or physical challenges an opportunity to play baseball as a team member in an organized league - both competitive and non-competitive - that provides a safe and friendly environment. Easterseals Miracle League of North Oakland opened ballparks in 2019 at Friendship Park in Lake Orion, Michigan, and services more than 400 children.

Leveling The Playing Field
The idea of building specially equipped baseball fields began in Conyers, Georgia when a boy in a wheelchair showed up to play in a youth baseball program. One of the coaches took the boy as a member of his team, but it became apparent that conventional baseball fields were inadequate for children with special needs. Grassy turf was difficult for wheelchairs, walkers, and braces to navigate, and bumps and irregular surfaces made moving awkward and dangerous.

Dubbed the “Field of Dreams”, the first custom field was designed with a cushioned synthetic turf that accommodates wheelchairs and other walking assistance devices, and handicapped accessible dugouts, restrooms, and drinking fountains were included. Today, each player in every Miracle League game is given an opportunity to hit the ball and score a run.

Miracle League team members are assigned “buddies” who assist them in hitting the ball and “running” the bases. Buddies can be fellow schoolmates, parents, college students, business leaders, or anyone who wishes to volunteer their time to give a child the gift of baseball. What results is a bond that is nearly indescribable – as Todd Mickles found when he became a “buddy” to his friend’s son with special needs, Johnny. Mickles experienced baseball through the eyes of his young friend, and he went to bat for the mission of Easterseals Miracle League.

Together With Millcraft Buy & Give
Millcraft Vice President and Detroit Regional Manager Julie Sattler shares, “Todd Mickles came to me and asked, ‘Would Millcraft possibly consider including Easterseals Miracle League of North Oakland as a recipient of Millcraft Detroit Buy & Give donations?’”

Since 2015, Millcraft’s Detroit Region, which includes the Detroit division and Millcraft store locations in Ann Arbor, Lansing, Sterling Heights, Southfield, and Toledo, had combined its Buy & Give efforts together toward one recipient, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital,

With Mickles’ passion for Miracle League in mind, and his drafted proposal in-hand, “We decided yes, let’s do both,” Sattler says. “It seemed to me that we could make a big difference with Easterseals Miracle League of North Oakland; even with a smaller amount, we could still make an impact.” In 2021, Millcraft’s Detroit Region donated 25 percent of its Buy & Give paper program proceeds, or $4,724, to Easterseals Miracle League of North Oakland.

“We share values,” Chief Development Officer, Senior Vice President Easterseals Michigan Regan Goldberg says. “One of our key values is partnership, and Todd Mickles and Millcraft are bright, shining-star examples of taking our value and bringing it to life.”

Goldberg says Mickles is also personally involved with the Miracle League of North Oakland Golf Outing, its annual fundraiser. She says Millcraft is a passionate company with an amazing, philanthropic mission. “I love companies who are committed to helping and serving others, and that is definitely who Millcraft is. They want to give back in the communities they are in.” Goldberg says the Buy & Give donation received was put toward a specific need of Easterseals Miracle League of North Oakland’s: a concession stand located in Friendship Park.

Friendship Park & Miracle League Buddies
Play ball! Ready for children with mental and physical special needs to enjoy baseball, Easterseals Michigan Miracle League of North Oakland held a grand ribbon-cutting re-opening ceremony June 18, 2022 at Friendship Park in celebration of its first full season since COVID began and updates to the park – including a fully-operating concession stand which employs people with special needs.

Millcraft plans to continue its Buy & Give partnership with Easterseals Miracle League of North Oakland, and for Millcraft Detroit area employees to become “buddies” with players at Friendship Park as COVID restrictions lessen. For now, kids with special needs in Greater Detroit can experience the joy of America’s favorite pastime because of Easterseals Miracle League of North Oakland, and that gives players, buddies, and everyone in the stands something very special to cheer about.

By: Jen W. O’Deay

To learn more about the Buy & Give program in your community,
Just ask.

Watch Miracle League of North Oakland - Concession Building Ribbon Cutting! 


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