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Photos taken at the Extra Special People Big Hearts Pageant on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia. Big Hearts is annual pageant and fundraiser for children and adults of all abilities. (Photo/Christina R. Matacotta, crmatacotta@gmail.com)

The Amerigroup Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem insurance, announced on June 26 a grant that will completely fund the first two years of Extra Special People’s new Miracle League Complex in Watkinsville.

“We are thrilled to partner with Extra Special People to help improve lives and communities, as well as create a world where people of every ability have equal opportunities,” Amerigroup Georgia’s health plan President Melvin Lindsey said in a news release.

The Watkinsville complex will be located in Harris Shoals Park, and will feature a playground, splash pad and a fully-accessible baseball field designed for kids of every ability.

With Amerigroup’s grant, Extra Special People has reached $1.2 of its $1.4 million fundraising goal for the complex, slated to open in spring 2020.

“We are excited for the Miracle League Complex to break ground as soon as the remaining funds are raised, and look forward to supporting such a worthy cause” Lindsey said.

Extra Special People is a Georgia-based organization that serves people with behavioral disorders, such as cerebral palsy, Asperger’s and Down syndrome. Founded in 1986, the organization started as a summer camp and later expanded into other operations including after-school programs, family support programs and events.

The Miracle League was formed in 1999 to invite children of all abilities to play baseball by building access facilities throughout the country, and has expanded into Canada and Australia.

“We are proud to align our Miracle League Complex with a corporation that is dedicated to improving the lives of people with all abilities, and we cannot wait for this dream to become a reality,” Executive Director of Extra Special People Laura Whitaker said in the news release.

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