News Article Details

Butler County baseball fields for special needs kids vandalized

Hamilton Journal News - 3/9/2017

March 09--HAMILTON -- The start of a new season for Butler County Challenger Baseball always comes with fun surprises for children in the league that caters to those with Down syndrome, autism, muscular deficiencies and other special needs.

Visits from baseball players and members of the military have helped to build excitement for every new season since the league launched nearly 30 years ago.

But the surprise Alan LaKamp discovered at the Hamilton fields this week was not a good one.

The dugouts were covered with graffiti.

"It's heart-breaking. It's not acceptable," said LaKamp, president of the Butler County Challenger Baseball League.

"It's just one more thing added to the expense that we have to shell out, out of our pocket ... it's just not fair to these kids," he said.

Now volunteers will have to put in extra time and extra money to get the facilities at Crawford Woods in Hamilton ready for the league's opening day on Sunday, May 7.

"We put in a lot of time, a lot of money into these fields to make them nice ... We don't need the extra stuff going on here to make it bad, for these families to see this," LaKamp said.

LaKamp said he will review surveillance cameras and meet with Hamilton police to try to catch the vandals.

"We've been having vandalism down at the Challenger baseball field for quite a while," he said.

Hamilton police Sgt. Brian Robinson said the department will gladly work with the league and identify who is responsible for the vandalism.

"There has not been a police report filed as of yet," he said.

Mayor Pat Moeller said he hopes the whoever is responsible for the vandalism is brought to justice immediately.

"This is not art and it is an act of criminal vandalism," Moeller said. "The Challenger League does a great job with their resources to provide an opportunity for the youth with special needs to play ball."

In addition to the graffiti, someone stole an American flag and broke a picnic table at the ballfields.

Earlier this year,more than two dozen high school teens from Butler Tech's Construction Technologies and Landscaping Science classes renovated the baseball facilities at the park on Hamilton's east side.

The Butler Tech students provided about $10,000 worth of volunteer work as part of their classroom learning, according to school officials.

Staff writer Wayne Baker contributed to this report.

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(c)2017 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio)

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