The cheque has cleared

Representatives from Antigonish Challenger Baseball accepted a cheque from the Toronto Blue Jays and the Jays Care Foundation on January 12.

ANTIGONISH: The good folks at Antigonish Challenger Baseball now have a cheque in their hands that brings them closer to having an accessible field in Antigonish.

“The Jays were in Halifax for part of their winter tour, and they presented us the cheque so we have that on board,” said Randy Crouse, the coordinator of Antigonish Challenger Baseball. He also serves as coordinator on the provincial and national level for Challenger Baseball.

“Our goal now is to break ground in the spring. We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s pretty exciting.”

Officials with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Jays Care Foundation signed on to donate $150,000 to the initiative last April. On January 12 in Halifax, they handed over the cheque.

“The process started four years ago, and the plan was to update all our fields,” said Crouse. “This project is a joint effort between minor ball and softball, Challenger Baseball, and the Town of Antigonish’s Rec Department.

“The first phase was to fix up the softball field for the Special Olympics last summer. The baseball field is fairly new but we’ll do some work on it to keep it fresh and looking good. We’re also trying to make a new accessible field, so we’re pretty pleased with how things are going. When all is said and done, we’ll have a field for Challenger and the younger groups, we’ll have a good softball field, and we’ll get some work done on the baseball field. Our goal is to have a nice little facility for years to come.

“We’re still in the tender process, but in terms of fundraising, we’re close to our goal. We’re close enough now to find out who’s going to do the work.”

Members of Antigonish Challenger Baseball had an opportunity to visit with the Jays during their time in Halifax, and the event brought many smiles to the faces the youths. Indeed, Challenger athletes from across the province were rubbing elbows with the Torontonians.

“Six or seven years ago, the challenge was just getting the word out, and now we have 350-plus athletes across Nova Scotia and 5,000 across Canada,” Crouse said. “We’re playing ball with the Blue Jays, and there are a lot of cool opportunities with these kids, so that’s all pretty special.”

While the money from the Jays’ is well-appreciated, a number of other individuals and groups have opened their wallets for the cause. Both Antigonish Town and County have donated for the cause.

“And people are making donations on behalf of families, local and from afar, multiple businesses have donated. I think it’s close to 100 people and groups who’ve provided donations up to $1,000s. This is such a supportive community, and we’d never have done it without the support of a whole lot of people.

“There are a whole lot of people behind the scenes, and a whole lot of fun things will be happening once everything is built.”