Imagine a real-life "Field of Dreams." Not in the movies or some fantasy land, but in the backyard of a Gillette family's home just outside of the Twin Cities. That's exactly what Leah and Nick Feyereisen have created. The inspiring story began when Leah gave birth to triplet boys—all with disabilities of varying degrees. One of their triplets, Tanner (now 9), was born with cerebral palsy and clubfoot.
The boys, especially Tanner, faced bullying as a result of their disabilities. As a result, their parents decided to build a simple backyard baseball field, where all are welcome and treated with kindness. It's a place where kids can see Tanner in action and realize he's a baseball loving kid not so different from themselves. Fast forward a few years and the field has turned out to resemble that real-life "Field of Dreams"—because kids of all abilities from near and far have been flocking to the sandlot to play.
Each year the Feyereisens host an opening day event in May to officially kick-off summer at the field. Opening day grows a little each season—this year, guess how many people were there?
More than 50 kids of all ages and abilities, and dozens of parents gathered to celebrate opening day 2016. Speedway donated food for the event, Minnesota Twins announcer Jim Cunningham called the game via a PA system, and there was a trumpeting duo on hand to play the national anthem, seventh inning stretch and more. Gillette communicators were there to capture the event. We detailed the festivities and the field's powerful message in the video above.
Several journalists were on-hand to cover the excitement as well:
- KSTP reporter Ellen Galles covered the event. The nearly 6 minute story aired on the 10 p.m. news and later on affiliates KAAL, WDAY and KSTC.
- Major League Baseball (MLB) writer Rhett Bollinger wrote a story and published an accompanying video for MLB.com.
- The Feyereisen's local newspaper, the New Richmond News, was at the field to document opening day.
Tanner eloquently summed up the mantra of the field during an interview with KSTP. He said the field is a safe place for kids who want to join in the fun of America's favorite pastime. "They know they are not going to be bullied and they are not going to feel sad," he said.