‘The Miracle League’ allows thousands who couldn’t otherwise play to get in the game
May 13, 2022
PEORIA, Ill. — Samaritan Ministries International (Samaritan) member Stephanie Davis cares deeply for children who have disabilities and a love of baseball. As national program director of The Miracle League, she’s been able to combine the two in an amazing way.
“I just thought, ‘Everybody needs this opportunity,’ and to bring these two things together was really a dream for me,” she says.
The Miracle League, which serves about 50,000 children and some adults in 320 local Miracle Leagues in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, allows children with disabilities to play baseball “no matter their ability.” Each child is partnered with a “buddy” who helps them by pushing a wheelchair up a basepath or swinging a bat to hit a ball.
“Whatever the player’s special need might be, the buddies are there to protect them and help them play the game,” Stephanie says.
“One of the best things about being part of Samaritan Ministries is seeing how our members help other members and how this often enables them to give the love of Jesus in the wider world,” says Anthony Hopp, vice president and chief purpose officer at Samaritan. “Stephanie is a perfect example of this; she gives her heart and soul to special needs kids, knowing that her own family’s needs will be shared by other Samaritan members.”
As members of Samaritan Ministries, Stephanie and Brian Davis sought help when their 12-year-old son Bode had a “horrible bike accident” in 2020. He suffered a concussion, broken collarbone and nerve injury in his leg. He did recover, but bills began to soar, “between life flight and a week in the trauma unit, plus eight weeks of therapy,” Stephanie says.
Working with Samaritan Ministries staff and receiving support from the members eased the Davises’ burden. “From day one, Samaritan Ministries was there for us – praying for us, guiding us through the process, negotiating bills for us,” says Stephanie. “Then the encouragement we got from members was priceless. People were praying and reaching out to us with so much love and support. I can’t imagine going through that horrible time without this network of Christians bearing each other’s burdens. It’s been a huge blessing for our family.”
The Davises, who operate a landscape company with Brian’s brother, joined Samaritan after tiring of “health insurance runarounds.”
“Annual renewal was one of the most stressful times of the year,” Stephanie recalls. “We would be canceled, or our policy wasn’t available, or premiums were just going through the roof and weren’t affordable for our family anymore. Then, when we did need to use it, the deductibles were so high that we felt like we could have paid cash and done better without having insurance.”
Most Miracle Leagues are open to players ages 4 and up of all abilities. Players typically qualify for a Miracle League “if you wouldn’t qualify or be able to safely participate in a youth baseball program,” Stephanie says. “We have everyone from children with learning disabilities to children with severe physical disabilities.”
Stephanie, who lives with her husband, Brian, son, Bode, and daughter, Emory, near Athens, Georgia, became aware of The Miracle League in 2001 when HBO’s “Real Sports” aired a report on it.
Only 20 years old at the time, she “did some research and found the organizers of the original league,” she says. “We were just so inspired that we decided to replicate the idea and start the second local Miracle League, which was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 2002.”
Her job now as national program director of The Miracle League is to consult with local organizations as they establish a local complex and league. This means planning facilities that can handle a variety of special challenges. “The players need a fully accessible, rubberized surface and complexes that are also fully accessible so they can get from the parking lot to the field,” Stephanie says.
“It brings so much joy to families because we are providing the players a way to be included in a team sport, which has never happened for them before,” she continues. “Most of the joy we see is from being with friends and coaches and buddies, as well as spending time outside. They are getting exercise and fresh air, but most importantly they have a place to belong.
“I try my best to show the love of Jesus to everyone I serve. I feel like this is the calling that God has given me.”
For more about Stephanie Davis and Miracle League, see the May Samaritan Member Spotlight.
Samaritan Ministries currently has a membership of 286,026 individuals from 84,940 households.
Samaritan has no limited enrollment period. Government exchange-based health insurance requires signups to occur only during open enrollment periods unless one qualifies for a special enrollment period due to a “life event” such as losing coverage, getting married, moving, or having a baby.
Samaritan Ministries health care sharingoffers additional advantages:
- No network restrictions. When medical care is needed, Samaritan members choose the health care provider, hospital, and pharmacy that work best for them.
- The direct-sharing approach allows members to not only help fellow believers with their medical financial needs but to pray for and connect with them on a regular basis.
Samaritan gives people of Biblical faith an effective, Bible-driven health care community in which approximately $30 million in medical needs is shared person to person every month. Over the past 27 years, Samaritan Ministries members have shared more than $3 billion in needs while also praying for and encouraging fellow members through personal notes, cards and letters.