Lake County unveils playground for people with disabilities

An adaptive playground for people with disabilities was unveiled in Eastlake Thursday afternoon, the first of its kind in Lake County.

The playground is right next to the Lake County Captains Stadium on Vine Street and has been a year in the making.

Every piece on the playground serves a purpose for people with disabilities.

There are ramps so everything is wheelchair-accessible, and lots of sensory equipment to touch and hear. There are also special areas for those with autism.

And the playground is only part of the project.

In a few weeks, organizers will break ground on a baseball field right next to it, where a parking lot currently sits.

The baseball field will be made of a material called “pebble flex” so wheelchairs can easily roll across.

For Kathy Habat, it will be a field of dreams.

The 35-year-old has Down Syndrome and just played in a softball team for the first time this past summer — finding a passion in the game.

Tana Habat, Kathy’s sister-in-law, showed a sweet video of Kathy’s first hit.

“My heart just filled,” Tana said. “She was so excited that she just stood there for a second. We all had to say, ‘Run, run!’”

With giant scissors, Kathy cut the ribbon at the adaptive playground Thursday afternoon, opening it to people of all ages and with any disability.

Judy Moran, board president of the Miracle League, said the nearest similar playground is in Findlay, Ohio, more than two hours away.

“We want this not just to be for Eastlake, or Lake County. This is for Northeast Ohio,” Moran said.

“This is a big day for us in Eastlake,” Mayor Dennis Morley said. “Like the Miracle League’s motto — everyone deserves to play baseball.”

The adaptive playground and baseball field cost $1.2 million. Nearly all of the funding came from private donations, including the Cleveland Foundation.