(MARA) today received a $25,000 grant from Speedway Children's Charities to establish a baseball program for special needs or challenged youth in Mecklenburg and Union Counties. This grant allows MARA to operate the program at no cost to the participants. Because of Speedway Children's Charities, the MARA Board of Governors has dedicated a field in honor of Major General Thomas M. Sadler, USAF ret. The presentation will take place at Opening Day for MARA Baseball where over 800 baseball and softball players, along with their families will also recognize and honor the retired Major General.

"M/Gen Sadler and his wife have lived in the Matthews Area for 25 years and the naming of a field in his honor is more of an honor for MARA than for anyone" said Jeff White, President. "We are thrilled that Speedway Children's Charity recognized our needs as we begin to grow this program".

In 2008, MARA affiliated its organization and members with Babe Ruth Baseball, Inc.  and because of this change, MARA now has an opportunity to form the only league in Mecklenburg County. The Bambino Buddy-Ball Division allows challenged or special needs athletes to develop confidence and positive self-esteem. It allows them to be part of organized sports and assists with physical fitness as well as their social skills. The joy and emotion you experience when you put that first baseball uniform or cap on a challenged
child's head is like no other. The Bambino Buddy-Ball Division is an emotionally rewarding experience for everyone as it also allows the "buddies" to feel good about helping their challenged friends, while at the same time making it a fun and memorable time for all.

About Speedway Children's Charities
Making a difference in a child's life is the focus of Speedway Children's Charities (www.speedwaycharities.org) and we strive to do this in collaboration with the non-profit organizations we support nationwide.

Individually, SCC's local chapters identify the needs of children in their communities and award grants to organizations that address them. In 2007, the chapters combined to award more than $3.3 million to over 510 organizations. More information may be found at www.speedwaycharities.org.

About Matthews Athletic and Recreation Association
Matthews Athletic and Recreation Association was founded in 1956 by a land grant from the Arthur Goodman family to meet the recreational needs of the youth in eastern and southern Mecklenburg County and Union County. Today, MARA provides almost 2000 boys and girls of all ages numerous recreational activities including baseball, softball, basketball, football and cheerleading. More information about MARA can be found at www.MARAsports.org.