ROCK HILL — A year ago, Nicole Tepper came to see a field of red clay, heard about the vision for the land, and cried. Tuesday, as she arrived to see it full of colorful playground equipment, and what will soon be green fields of play, she cried again. That’s what made Tuesday’s donation an easy decision, and a meaningful one.
Carolina Panthers Charities made a $200,000 donation to Miracle Park, and Dave and Nicole Tepper followed with another $500,000, to help finish the state-of-the-art and inclusive recreational facility for those with special needs.
“About a year ago, I met Riley Fields (the Panthers’ director of community relations) at this exact location, and it was all dirt,” Nicole Tepper said. “And they presented this vision of Miracle Park. I couldn’t really see it, but I knew the concept was incredible.
“Waking up today, thinking about that day, leading up to today, was unbelievable.”
The grand opening of the 15-acre park is scheduled for Aug. 21. The facility will include baseball and softball fields, along with multi-purpose fields for a variety of sports including flag football and soccer. The facility also features an inclusive playground, and a retail space which will employ people with a variety of disabilities.
But mostly, it looks fun.
Kylie Carroll, the executive director of Miracle Park, knows that it can be a triumph at a community and personal level. As the mother of a child with Down’s Syndrome (and 8-year-old Kidus was on the front row Tuesday), the barriers are real. It’s not just about having equipment that is accessible to all, but to have the ability to schedule therapy for the facility, and to have events there, make it the kind of place where the entire family can enjoy.