Deb Madonna (left) with the LaRiche family and others involved in the Miracle League project
Nov. 2, 2016 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Plymouth Michigan News
It takes a lot to surprise Lou LaRiche.
The long-time Plymouth car dealer has a wealth of life experience and isn’t easily misled.
Just ask his son, Scott, who had been secretly maneuvering a special tribute to his dad and late mother for several months.
“It wasn’t easy,” Scott LaRiche said, “but we managed to pull it off.”
What Lariche and Deb Madonna of the Miracle League of Plymouth, managed was the surprise announcement recently during a regular meeting of the Plymouth Noon Rotary Club, that there was about to be another ‘miracle’ in the community that would be named in honor of his parents.
Not nearly the size or scope of the current Miracle League athletic field located behind Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex, the former Central Middle School, but a new, covered pavilion, attached to the current building, with a concrete pad for picnic tables that will accommodate rolling devices.
And, the younger LaRiche announced, looking directly at his father during the meeting, the covered pavilion now under construction at the fields will be named for Lou and the late Gail LaRiche, as a tribute for all the couple has generously contributed to the community for decades.
Scott LaRiche, as a past president of the North American International Auto Show, was able to use funding from the Chairman’s Choice fund of the NAIAS, an opportunity for each individual chairman to designate funding to a local charity project. LaRiche chose the Miracle Network field.
LaRiche said a real issue was keeping the surprise from his father. “I was so excited. My wife, Dawn, and I kept the secret for months. A couple of times I had the plans out on my desk and had to quickly hide them from him when he came in.”
“It was all worth it to see his reaction. He just stared, shocked,” LaRiche said.
“We are just honored and humbled to be able to do things for this community that means so much to us,” LaRiche said.
The covered pavilion and an accompanying canopy at the bleacher area where the players await their turns at bat are improvements of more than $100,000 at the fields. Lariche, along with Madonna, who was instrumental in the original development of the field which provides children with physical and mental dis- abilities the opportunity to play organized baseball, displayed the plans for the improvements on a large projection screen during the meeting. The Miracle League is non-competitive, and all players getting to bat and circle the bases each inning.
The field is not restricted to Plymouth residents, but disabled children from throughout the area can experience baseball at the fields. Each has a ‘buddie’ who helps ensure the players make it safety from base to base, all of whom are volunteers.
The Plymouth Rotary Club was a partner in the development of the playing field which features a rubberized ground cover suitable for children with special needs. The initial construction of the field was estimated at $1.1 million, all of which came from private and community group donations to the effort.
A partner in the improvements at the field is Kelly’s Kidz, another non-profit group dedicated to the improvement of life and help for disabled children.
“Kelly’s Kidz is proud to be a partner and assist athletes with this shading and pavilion project,” said Kelly Hermann, the co-founder of Kelly’s Kidz.
“The Miracle League of Plymouth provides such an amazing outlet for special needs kids and we are happy to continue our support of their efforts,” she added.
Photo: © Dave Willett / Associated Newspapers