BILLINGS — It’s quiet these days in the southeast corner of Poly Vista park - the space seemingly waiting for the perfect opportunity to come along. After seven and a half years, it finally has.
“The day I founded Landon’s Legacy was the morning I was writing his obituary, so it was June 5, 2013," said Marcie Smith.
Since that day, Marcie and her husband Scott have focused on one thing above all else: honoring their son with a dream that he never got to live out.
“He wanted to play baseball, and when that was never a reality for him, that was kind of what it kicked off for me and the Miracle League field," Smith said of her foundation's goal. "I don’t want another child not to be able to play.”
The Smiths found the Miracle League early on. It's an organization that builds all-inclusive fields, fit for anyone with any disability of any age.
“Twenty percent of our population is special needs in some way," Smith said. "This isn’t just for children. It will benefit senior citizens. It will benefit wounded warriors who thought they’d never play with their kids again.”
“I don’t think anybody really realizes how many people this park will serve," added longtime friend Dean Blackford. "I’m surprised it actually hasn’t come up prior to now that somebody wanted to get on this.”
So Blackford did. The Billings native is a board member for the Harnish Foundation - a family group with roots that started in 1929 in Sidney. Their mission is simple: give to those who can make an exponential difference with a running start.
“I’ve known the Smith family for a number of years, and when the opportunity came up to support this group, it was a shoe-in," Blackford said.
Harnish’s $375,000 donation last week is enough to make Landon’s Miracle Field a reality. It's now set to break ground this spring.
“Friendship, family, knowing them," Smith said, when asked how the grant came about. "They’re such a huge part of this community, and they have been for years. They love the community of Billings, and they want to stay involved in it and be part of it. And they believed in Landon’s foundation.”
The work isn’t done yet. The field is just Phase 1 of the site’s master plan.
“Once the Miracle Field is finished, we’ll move on to all-inclusive playground, and then after that, we’ll do the splash pad," said DeAnn Visser, the capital campaign director for Landon's Legacy. "Why (the splash pad) is important is that when people have mobility issues, they have a hard time cooling their body. So kids playing in the Miracle League might get overheated and under normal circumstances, they’d just have to go home. But now, they can go cool off on the splash pad. We want to make it an all-day play day for families.”
A day Landon would have loved.
“He would be overwhelmed," Blackford said. "He would be overwhelmed, he would be proud. Unfortunately he can’t be here to see it, but he’ll be here.”
To learn more about or donate to Landon's Legacy, click here.