Hall of Fame catcher helping Venice organization

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Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013 5:49 pm | Updated: 10:04 am, Fri Dec 6, 2013.

VENICE, FL - An organization in Venice working with the developmentally disabled getting a big boost thanks to a few local charities and a legendary Hall of Fame catcher. Carlton Fisk helping to break ground on expansion today at the Loveland Center.

There are more than 100 students with developmental disabilities on the Loveland Center campus. The 20 or so in the Nexus program headed by Madeline McGrail are typically older with more severe issues. "They do need more hands on care and help with their personal needs."

The facility though needs more space, a better layout, and something new called a multi sensory room. That's where Jack Fox and the Suncoast Foundation for Children comes in. "We oversee the building of it. We hire general contractors."

Teaming up with Fisk and his wife Linda to donate more than $55,000 to build it. "We brought them down last year to the Loveland Center. The campus speaks for itself."

The former major league catcher nicknamed "Pudge" famously known for his long career and homerun in the 1975 World Series. Playing hero of different sort these days. "We all know how privileged we are to live a normal life. We are just trying to give the people that are disadvantaged a little closer walk towards normal."

An issue hitting close to home. "We have a three year old grand baby who has Down Syndrome. To experience just the joy of him and all his smiles."

McGrail says the new sensory room will have lights, sounds, and smells which can be used to help students often times living with issues like Down Syndrome. "To give them the coping tools and the ability to be calmer. To act better in the world."

New tools she says they're very thankful for. "I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I am so so thrilled."

A Hall of Famer happy to help. "The smiles light up the room. When they smile it makes us smile."

The organization is hopeful construction will start within the next few weeks.

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