REM Award Honorees (2016) — Fran Purnell (Alfond Youth Center)

The Alfond Youth Center is proud to select Mr. Fran Purnell as this year’s REM honoree. Fran Purnell is honored as a member of the Maine Sports Legends Hall of Fame. Forty years ago Fran started his tenure as President of Waterville Youth Baseball/Little League Baseball which eventually became the Waterville Youth/Cal Ripken Baseball League.

Long ago, Fran, and his wife Joyce, and family were responsible for changing what had been a sandlot field on Mathews Avenue, Waterville, into a certified Little League All Star Field. Fran Purnell organized one of the world’s longest continuing Challenger Division Little League type programs for youth challenged with disabilities. Waterville honored Fran by naming the field on Matthews Avenue, Purnell Little League Field.

As a true community volunteer, Fran worked for the past two years with the City of Waterville and the Alfond Youth Center to place Waterville Youth Baseball under the leadership of the Alfond Youth Center to ensure continued sustainability. AND as an AYC volunteer, Fran started the effort to renovate Purnell Field as a partnership project of the City and the AYC.

The project will improve the field into a complete state of the art ball field that will accommodate the disabled and non-disabled people of all ages in the Greater Waterville Area. The renovated field will be a collegiate softball sized replica of the oldest Major League Baseball National League Field, Wrigley Field.

Waterville’s Purnell Wrigley Field’s artificial turf surface will be latex-free and have a profile to accommodate wheelchairs, power-chairs, and walkers. There will be handicap accessible dugouts, restrooms, seating, and other amenities. Purnell Wrigley will be ready to host Youth Baseball and Softball Tournaments, Tournaments for Challenged Youth, Wounded Warriors, others with challenges, Special Olympics Maine events, and regulation college softball.

Fran’s dream of a special place for special youth, their families, and the community will soon be realized. The tournament play will bring thousands of visitors each year to Waterville. Visitors experience Waterville’s cultural and economic resurgence and patronize businesses.

For more information about the Alfond Youth Center, please visit its website.

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