“Every child deserves the chance to play baseball,” says Brad Koller, MPC retiree.
Koller led fundraising efforts for the Fields for All Project, which began in June 2014 with the goal of creating an accessible, inclusive baseball experience for children of all ages and abilities.
This plan included expanding the Marathon Diamonds ballpark to construct a Miracle Field, Miracle Playground and inclusive restrooms. A Miracle Field is a baseball field with a cushioned surface, flat playing field and accessible dugouts that eliminate barriers to mobility-restricted and visually impaired players. A Miracle Playground is an accessible, barrier-free play space that children of all abilities can enjoy.
Koller demonstrated his commitment and belief in the project by generously making a personal donation, but more importantly, he gave thousands of hours toward this project. He spoke at community meetings, held interviews with the media, facilitated team meetings, served as the only grant writer and ensured the project was going to meet its goals. He did all of this living two and a half hours away from Findlay in Thornville, Ohio.
In just over a year, Koller helped the organization raise $1.7 million to fully fund the project. His efforts included writing more than 20 grant applications that generated $630,000 and an additional $195,000 in in-kind donations and facilitating a reception with community leaders that raised more than $400,000 toward the project. He was also instrumental in securing a donation from the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation, and he worked directly with the local Kiwanis and Rotary organizations, which contributed financially and also provided volunteer construction labor to help build the inclusive playground.
In addition to coordinating the project financials, Koller served as the project team construction lead, liaising with the national Miracle League organization and working with contractors such as Vaughn Industries and Alvada Construction to leverage in-kind and cash donations. He also developed a strong working relationship with the city of Findlay and the safety service director, another key partner in the project. Rather than solely working with contractors, Koller secured community involvement from multiple organizations to construct the playground, which drove further engagement as many volunteers also provided financial support.
While Koller has been actively involved with other nonprofits over the years, this was the first time he ever led a campaign of this magnitude. Through his efforts, the Blanchard Valley Health System Miracle Park was the quickest to fundraise, construct and open of all Miracle Fields across the country.
“It was a true community project and he was the captain, building every day,” said Paul Smith of the Fields for All Project, who nominated Koller for the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award.
Smith added, “His caring, commitment and tenacity are the driving reason as to why this campaign was so successful. His leadership will be felt for generations to come as individuals across Northwest Ohio get to experience playing America's pastime and having fun playing on the playground.”
Koller was recognized for his efforts at the 30th Annual National Philanthropy Day luncheon on Nov. 9, where he was presented the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Northwest Ohio Chapter. During his acceptance, Koller expressed his honor in accepting the award and the bond in representing the Fields for All team.
539 South Main Street
Findlay, OH 45840