MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It began as a dream, but soon enough it will be a reality. Dan Corley’s 17-year-old son has autism, for whom the desire to play sports has always been there. But the opportunity has been harder to come by.

Realizing his son, and other kids with special needs didn’t have athletic facilities of their own, Corley began a fundraiser to get something built.

“To finally see that it’s here and we’re breaking ground is truly a blessing,” Corley said. “You start with drawing a blueprint out on a napkin, and you start with a couple breakfasts, showing people what your vision and dream is and people just take hold of that and make it their own.”

Over the past couple years, Corley, his wife, and other volunteers raised more than $2 million for the Hope Fieldhouse project, a place designed for people with special needs to reach their full potential.

“I’m really looking forward to doing baseball, basketball, and soccer with my pals and friends,” Austin Corley said.

Hope Fieldhouse will be a 42,000-square-foot facility. There will be four volleyball and basketball courts, a fitness center, and a variety of other amenities.

The Dakota United Hawks will also play adaptive soccer and hockey games at the facility. Among those who donated and helped make this a reality was Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

From athletes to regular folks, every dollar donated meant so much more than they’ll ever know.

“Kids with special needs have a special place in my heart. And the fact that a lot of them don’t have a place like this they can go to shoot baskets and hang out with their friends, play volleyball, baseball, whatever the case is. That’s what makes this so unique is that everyone will have a place to play at Hope Fieldhouse,” Dan Corley said.

The Hope Fieldhouse will have ramps, sound absorption and light control to accommodate athletes with special needs.  Anyone is welcome to use it.

The groundbreaking will take place at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

John Lauritsen

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