HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A stolen sound system at a baseball field is sparking lots of upset in Huntsville. That's because it was taken from a very unique field for players with disabilities.
The Miracle League of North Alabama was targeted by thieves who took nearly $2000 worth of equipment from their press box at their field at Brahan Spring Park.
It's a baseball league for children, young adults and adults with special needs. It allows them to play an organized sport when they might otherwise not have had such an opportunity. The field is made of special material to safely accommodate participants in wheelchairs and with crutches.
The non-profit organization is focused on providing a "safe and enjoyable team sport experience for kids and young adults with physical or mental disabilities, regardless of his or her experience level or ability," explained Doug Schulte, president of the board of directors.
When the teams came to the park for their first game on Monday night, they were surprised to find that all of their sound equipment was gone.
"Our entire speaker system upstairs, our entire sound system for the field had been taken, along with the power drill we used to raise and lower the overhead door on the press box," Schulte revealed. "There was a control panel and the speakers were mounted on top of the brackets and somebody unmounted them and took the speakers with them. They took everything they needed. Fortunately, they left our baseballs and other things but it's just disappointing.
The equipment is used to play music before the games and a portable microphone is used to sing the national anthem. The speakers are used to announce the players' names during the game and when they cross home plate, providing them with their favorite moments.
"We have volunteers that come in and they'll sit here and announce every player as they come up to bat. When you see the look on the face of the players when their name gets announced over the PA system, there's smiles and laughs and giggles and cheers and it's something to watch. Now that we can't do that, it's upsetting to parents and me personally. It's one of the things you look forward to," Schulte stated.
The Miracle League reported the crime to the Huntsville Police Department and officers are investigating the theft of property. Schulte believes it happened in the past 30 days. The last time he visited the field several weeks ago, the equipment was in place.
"We keep the door locked but I think when the city came in to some work done inside the room here, it was left unlocked. I don't believe it was done intentionally but it was unlocked," he added. "It would be great if we could find out who took it. It's shame that someone would take something like that from our kids because it's really them they're stealing from."
The Miracle League is funded totally through donations from individuals and corporations from the community. Players aren't charged to participate.
"To now have to take whatever it costs to replace that system out of the fund that we use to pay for kid's uniforms, helmet, bats and those things, it's something that we'd rather not have to spend money on," Schulte said.
Upset parents have started a fundraising campaign to replace the equipment. You can make a donation by clicking here.
The league has a record number of players signed up for the 2018 baseball season, 265 people in different age groups, and they're not letting the theft get in the way of what they do, which is provide fun and joy on the baseball diamond and in the dugout.
"We're playing baseball! We didn't let that slow us down. We're just having a great time," Schulte said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Huntsville Area Crime Stoppers at 256-53CRIME.
You can also submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers.
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