An organization that provides opportunities for special needs youth and adults in the region is constructing a new miniature golf course as part of plans to add an accessible indoor sports facility nearby.
The Nuxhall Foundation, which created the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields in Fairfield in 2012, hopes to have a totally accessible 18-hole miniature golf course ready by late July behind the baseball fields at Hatton Park.
After learning that there are not many miniature golf courses that are wheelchair- or walker-accessible in the area, the organization decided to build a nine-hole mini golf course, said Kim Nuxhall, president of the Nuxhall Foundation.
The organization, which serves about 200 special needs youth and adults ages 4 to 75, hopes to eventually build a totally accessible gymnasium that can be utilized year-round. The facility already has two accessible and rubberized baseball fields, a bocce ball court and a wheelchair-accessible merry-go-round.
“The board’s ongoing task to to dream big for our kids,” said Nuxhall, son of the late Reds Hall of Famer Joe Nuxhall.
Nuxhall said his father, who was an avid golfer, would have loved the mini golf course project.
Nuxhall said he held onto a few miniature golf obstacles from the former Joe Nuxhall Golf Center in Joyce Park, which operated from 1980 to 2011. He said in addition to those obstacles, the new mini golf center will feature a brontosaurus, a life-size bobblehead of his father, a 22-foot giraffe from Traders World and a Frisch’s Big Boy.
“Our players are going to have their own (mini golf) club,” Nuxhall said. “They will be given their own ball, their own putter and a special code for them to play free anytime.”
Nuxhall said the mini golf course will be open to the public on weekends, and the foundation hopes to build an endowment to continue the project into perpetuity. He said Skidmore Foods is the main sponsor of the project, which has received support from a number of construction companies. Nuxhall said the foundation is also selling hole sponsorships.
Those plans come as the foundation recently held one of its most special events. On Saturday, the organization held its own version of the Findlay Market parade for the special needs baseball league as Fairfield residents lined up for the third annual Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Parade.
About 30 units traveled from Sacred Heart Church to the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields at Hatton Park on Groh Road.
“We want to make these kids feel like major leaguers,” Nuxhall said.
During the festivities at Lance Cpl. Taylor Prazynski Field, about 85 youth and adult players from Butler County and around the region had a chance to come down a red carpet for introductions.
The program gives many special needs adults and children, both developmental and physical, a chance to experience and play the game of baseball. The fields are accessible for wheelchairs and walkers and are rubber so no one gets injured. The park, which opened in 2012, features stadium seats and electronic scoreboards.
Miracle League games are played on Friday nights for adults and Saturday mornings for youth with disabilities. Nuxhall said the youth league starts April 13 and the adult league starts at the end of June.
The Nuxhall Foundation is also launching a national program this week to encourage high school and college baseball and softball teams to retire No. 42 in recognition of the first African-American to break Major League baseball’s color barrier.
The Nuxhall Foundation is partnering with the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund to underwrite the program to retire Baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson in an effort to promote formative values of good character, the organization said.
Nuxhall said the new program will be initiated at the Fairfield vs. Middletown high school baseball game at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday at Lefferson Field, 2201 S. Breiel Blvd. It is spearheaded by Marlon Styles Sr., who was Nuxhall’s catcher in the minor leagues and is the father of Middletown City Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr.
All of Major League Baseball teams have retired No. 42 to honor Robinson, who was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored, according to MLB.
Ed Richter has been a working journalist for 36 years, with the last 32 years working in various capacities covering Butler and Warren counties as a reporter and an editor. An award-winning journalist, Richter covers local news and governments in Warren County focusing on Springboro, Lebanon, Franklin, Carlisle and Waynesville.