The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 9, 2013

Our View: Eyes wide open

The Joplin Globe

— No community should have to suffer the onslaught of nature the way that Franklin, Kan., Carl Junction, Pierce City and Stockton did 10 years ago.

A devastating EF-4 tornado also claimed lives and homes nearly five years ago to the day. On May 10, 2008, tornadoes tore through Pitcher, Okla., and Newton County.

And, of course, Joplin and Duquesne are only two years out from one of the nation’s deadliest tornadoes on record.

We’ve learned plenty in the past 10 years about the weather. More people now have tornado shelters, and some communities — even those not affected by tornadoes — have built community shelters. Those changes have come about out of common sense and, to some degree, fear of the next storm.

More than ever we see people taking stock of their communities and pushing during the rebuilding to fix what was lacking or inadequate.

The Will Norton Miracle Field, where opening games were played Tuesday night, is one tremendous example of a group of people recognizing the area’s need for a place where every kid gets to play ball. It is here that every player bats once each inning, all players are safe on the bases, and every player scores a run. Those ages 5 to 20 with disabilities are eligible to play.

The construction of the field, named after Joplin High School graduate and 2011 tornado victim Will Norton, was coordinated by the Rotary Clubs of Joplin in conjunction with the Keller Williams Foundation. It was made possible by $370,000 in donations from Rotary Clubs around the world, the Keller Williams Foundation and numerous personal donations.

It was sheer joy seeing 6-year-old Tatum Ashford, a kindergartner at McKinley Elementary in Joplin, step up to bat on one leg. She used a walker decorated by her grandmother. The crowd went wild.

We were touched by the words of Tatum’s mother:

“For most of us here, this is the first time we’ve ever gotten to see our kids play ball like anyone else. It brings a lot of joy to our life to know she has something normal to look forward to.”

Tragedy, it seems, has prompted us to look up and take stock of what is important.