Miss North Carolina Teen USA Kenzie Hansley continues family tradition of Miracle League Home Run Derby

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WILMINGTON — In this time of giving during the holiday season, it’s not uncommon to see young men and women going the extra mile to help a worthy cause and contribute to the local community.

For Miss North Carolina Teen USA 2017, Kenzie Hansley, one would think there were many different avenues to help bring attention to a variety of charities and organizations across Wilmington. But, the Hampstead native and Topsail High School senior has been anything but bashful in expressing her love for the game of baseball.

Kenzie Hansley was crowned Miss Teen USA North Carolina in Oct. 2016. Photo courtesy- Miss North Carolina USA
Kenzie Hansley was crowned Miss Teen USA North Carolina in Oct. 2016. Photo courtesy- Miss North Carolina USA

Growing up in a family dedicated to the sport, largely due to the fact her older brother Trent Hansley was an impressive ball player in his own right, Kenzie Hansley knew when her sibling was working on his senior project in 2013 she would want to take over the fundraising effort in the years to come.

“I grew up at the ball field,” Kenzie Hansley said. “As long as I could remember, whether it be helping in the announcer’s booth or just supporting my brother and his team, I enjoy being around baseball. When this opportunity came about I thought it was a good fit for me and our family has really got behind this effort each year.”

Now in its third year, the Miracle League Bomb Squad Homerun Derby has become a hit. As a way to raise money for The Miracle League of Wilmington, which is geared at giving those with disabilities an opportunity to play a competitive sport with the help of the many volunteers who donate countless hours of time to the effort, the Homerun Derby has helped in the ongoing mission of this non-profit created locally in 2008.

“Talk about a star. She is stunning inside and out,” said Bo Dean, who sits on the Board of Directors for the Miracle League. “The whole Hansley family got involved and, of course, Kenzie with a heart as big as she has, made it her special cause.

“She and her brother both should be considered the pride of Topsail with all they do and have done to shine, and their parents are just amazing,” Dean said. “These are the kinds of folks that make the miracle league what it is: inclusion. where everybody comes together and plays and sees where we all can play, be healthy, participate. Kenzie sees that beauty in everyone and so does her whole family.”

Miracle League of Wilmington, whose handicap accessible field opened to players of all ages in 2013, has a launched a fundraiser to continue to support its mission. Photos courtesy Miracle League.
Miracle League of Wilmington, whose handicap accessible field opened to players of all ages in 2013, has a launched a fundraiser to continue to support its mission. (Photos courtesy Miracle League.)

The idea of helping a cause dedicated to those with disabilities stemmed from a childhood classmate of Trent Hansley, who had a special needs sister. The Hansley family eventually became connected siblings, Bonnie and Maggie Swann, who touched their lives in many different ways. That motivation led to the Miracle League Bomb Squad Homerun Derby.

Since its inception, the annual fundraiser has helped raise $10,000 to help offset participation costs at the Miracle League of Wilmington.

Beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, the fundraiser will get underway at the Miracle Field and Playground at Olsen Park in Wilmington.  The event is open to people of all ages, with the home run derby being self-explanatory.

For a $25 donation, which goes to The Miracle League of Wilmington Hansley Family Scholarship Fund, participants get a chance to hit as many home runs as possible on the rubberized turf at BRAXX Stadium PPD Miracle Field.

The age divisions include: Little league – 8 and Under; Minor league – 11-12, 13-14 (or middle school); Major League – 15-19 (High School); Average Joes – 20 and up.

For more information, contact Kenzie Hansley at 910-617-6360 or email kenziehansley@gmail.com.