By: Reney Waters, Follow South Jersey News Reporting Intern
OCEAN COUNTY, N.J. — The Toms River Field of Dreams, an outdoor complex designed specifically for people of all ages with disabilities, will receive $400,000 in state funding as part of New Jersey’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget. Thanks to this funding, the complex will be able to open its doors to the community later this year.
Christian Kane, the founder of Toms River’s Field of Dreams complex, has a 10-year-old son named Gavin. Gavin suffered severe brain trauma after a car accident in 2012, and his father has advocated for those with special needs and disabilities ever since. In addition to support from the community, local officials, and New Jersey’s state government, the Field of Dreams project also received a boost from former Major League Baseball player and current U.S. Olympian Todd Frazier donated $50,000 to project in 2019.
“This is such an important and exciting moment for everyone in the Toms River community, regardless of disability status, because the Field of Dreams is all about accessibility, opportunity, inclusion and fun,” Paul Aronsohn, the Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and their families, said in a statement. “Like so much of the recent progress made for people with disabilities, this is the result of a true partnership.”
“I am proud to see this incredible new facility aimed at giving special needs people a chance to play ball,” Rep. Andy Kim (D-3) said in a release. “I want to thank the Governor for his efforts to help get this project across the finish line. Everyone should have a chance to enjoy America’s pastime, and I am excited to see the Toms River Field of Dreams become a reality.”
The complex will consist of a little league baseball field, playground, designated quiet spaces, paved walking and rolling path with rehabilitation stations, pavilion, snack shack, and courts for basketball, bocce, and shuffleboard. The facility is set to open in October 2021.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.