Why we need a rubber field

Frog-a-Nanny has had a tough year because of the weather. The parade, pep rally and ball game were postponed twice due to rain and storms and ultimately put off until the late summer when school starts again.
The fun run and 5K did come off Friday, however, with about 80 participants total. That’s not bad for a relatively new run held when many people are out of town taking a post-semester vacation or break.
The runs have good courses, all contained within BNA Bank Park and Tallahatchie Trails (but without the killing hills in the Tallahatchie RiverRun) and should draw more people each year.
For those who don’t remember, Frog-a-Nanny’s origin is a bit complicated.
About 18 years ago, local businessman Dean Provence wanted to create an endowment that would be used to provide funds for worthwhile school activities or projects that could not be paid for otherwise.
That fund became the Dean Provence Endowment for Excellence in Education.
Organizers looking for ways to raise money decided to have a festival with carnival-like events. Since Provence’s nickname in high school here was “Frog,” the carnival became “Frog-a-Nal.”
A part of that overall event was the Frog-a-Nanny as a way to help and involve special needs students specifically. The “Nanny” part came from the nickname for the mother of Kelly Coltharp, special education director at New Albany.
Eventually, the endowment fund grew enough that the Frog-a-Nal was discontinued but Coltharp worked to continue the Frog-a-Nanny, and gradually cause it to grow.
Now, the event includes the annual parade with royalty selected from among the special needs students and borrowing from Mardi Gras. High school students and community groups help with the students and events and become members of a “krewe” that takes part as well. Frog-a-Nanny includes county students and even New Haven clients.
Recently, a pep rally has been added but probably the centerpiece has been the ball game with all the special needs students participating in teams, assisted by helpers.
What Coltharp said has not been publicized enough about all this is the number of people who help and participate, and that they do it for the love of the students, many of whom are family members or neighbors.
Each event brings a little more public awareness and helps with fundraising projects for special needs programs, but more would help.
Coltharp ambitiously wants to someday be as successful as fundraisers for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
But she mentioned a more immediate goal – still ambitious but do-able.
To provide the students with an area where they can participate in sports more on their on and in better conditions, she wants to have what she refers to as a “rubber baseball field.”
I had never heard of one but that do exist, used by an organization called The Miracle League. In fact, Coltharp says one of the fields can be found in Olive Branch, where they have a league for special needs students.
Basically, it’s a whole field covered in a rubber-like material that is safer generally and that wheelchairs and crutches can be used more easily on.
She said the cost is initially estimated at $50,000.
That is a lot of money but Union Countians have contributed that much and more for other deserving organizations here. Special needs students are just as worthy.
She did not think the money could be raised. I do.
And if you go to the Frog-a-Nanny ball games, so will you.
J. Lynn West