The Middleburgh girls varsity basketball team will soon leave the court to become supermodels for a cause that is close to their hearts, their coach said Monday.
Amber Lawrence-Johns said it was more than a year ago when she noticed a car’s bumper sticker that read, “Capital Region Miracle League.” As head coach of the Middleburgh girls’ varsity soccer team, assistant coach to the Middleburgh girls’ varsity basketball team and a lover of all sports, her interest was immediately piqued, she said.
After doing some research, Lawrence-Johns said, she discovered the bumper sticker was in promotion of a league centered in East Greenbush that provides athletic experiences for children and adults with special needs. Lawrence-Johns said she immediately wanted to get her family involved, including her husband, who is also a coach, and her two sons.
“We ended up falling in love with everyone there,” Lawrence-Johns said.
Lawrence-Johns, who owns and runs a successful photography business called Amber J Photography, said after getting to know some of the special needs athletes, she encouraged her basketball team, the Western Athletic Conference Champions who finished 15-4 this year, to volunteer at the “Miracle League” on Saturdays, and was overjoyed when the young women jumped at the chance.
“They didn’t hesitate. And they are so affectionate and kind with the disabled athletes,” Lawrence-Johns said. “They get a lot of hugs. They love doing it.”
The Capital Region Miracle League was founded in 1999 by Burke Adams, whose daughter, Jaime, uses a wheelchair. Jaime loves sports, Adams said, but can only communicate with her eyes and smile. Adams said he wanted to give Jaime and other disabled sports lovers a chance to get in the game and feel a part of that world.
In 2009, Adams said, the town of East Greenbush provided space in the Town Park to create what Adams called a “dream come true”: the Jaime M. Adams Field, which is the first multi-sport facility in the nation that was designed specifically for special needs athletes.