Sofya and her family.

By Sofya Stearns 

I’m a mom of a 10-year-old child; I get you moms.  

After wanting to have a baby for so many years, my wish finally came true 10 years ago. Therefore, I cannot wait for school to be over to spend every second with my daughter. However, I am a business owner too, and although I have only one child, and yes, I’m in charge of my own schedule, balancing is not an easy task. On that note, when women tell me that I have it easy because I only have one child, it really hurts. 

I understand that not everyone feels all the joy that I do when school is out, especially when we hear from our kids, “I’m bored. I have nothing to do.” Or “I don’t want to go to the pool, it’s boring.” Or “I’m hungry, I need a snack!” This drives us moms insane, right? So, then the question arises, how to solve these dilemmas? 

Well, moms, I’m here to help! Perhaps, the kids are all “pooled out” (is that really a thing?). What about organizing a book club among their friends? And whoever reads a book first, gets a little prize—nothing too fancy or over the top—or maybe as a reward he or she has the chance to pick the book for the next month.  

Another question/idea: Whatever happened to good old portable games that are nondigital? There are a ton of these games that you can purchase from Learning Express or Five Below. There are so many inexpensive games to play like UNO, Dominos, Connect 4, Candy Land and random coloring games and books as well as puzzles, and, of course, Mad Libs! 

It seems that children are hungrier during the summer So how to provide healthy snacks? Hummus comes to mind. It has a long shelf life and can be made in large quantities. It’s delicious with pitas, pretzels, celery, carrots, radishes, baby tomatoes and cucumbers. Did you know that cucumbers are a wonderful way to stay hydrated as they contain 92% water? 

Now that school is out, you can no longer sneak fruit into a lunch box. One way to get kids to eat fruit is to whip up a batch of baked apples with walnuts, or with any nut of your choice. (Those with nut allergies may want to try coconut, and fruit preserves that are low in sugar.) Walnuts are a wonderful source of antioxidants and excellent for the brain, which makes total sense (have you ever noticed that they are even shaped like a brain?!) Slice them up and voila, you got yourself a sweet and healthy snack for your kiddos and for you! You may also consider frozen mango, grapes, and/or any type of berries as they are wonderful, hydrating, and nutritious. 

At times, drinking water can get boring. To liven it, you can add a few drops of MiO or Sunkist water enhancer. 

Moms, one lesson I have learned from other moms is to share your burdens with other moms, and don’t judge yourselves (or each other) because none of us are perfect. The following is what I tell my 10-year-old, “As long as you did your best, that’s what really counts.” 

How can I help? Email to tell me about the advice you’d like to see in future issues of Northern Connection. Until next month.

Women in Business & Health Care

Each year it is Northern Connection’s pleasure to introduce you to the business and professional women in our area.  They come from many different industries and specialties, and each brings her own expertise and experience to make them the best at their chosen profession.  Read about these amazing women by CLICKING HERE or picking up the May issue.

Play Ball! The Miracle League Prepares for Another Season of Baseball Fun 

By Janice Lane Palko  

After not playing in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and playing the 2021 season while wearing masks and social distancing, The Miracle League of Southwestern Pennsylvania is pumped for the upcoming baseball season, the league’s 14th year.  

The Miracle League program offers children and adults with special needs, individuals starting from the age of 5 and up, to learn and play the fundamentals of baseball. The Miracle League field, located at Graham Park in Cranberry Twp., is a specially designed turf field that can accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, mobility devices– all players can be successful at the field. 

“We are excited to get back to normal after having to cancel the season in 2020 and playing an abbreviated season last year,” said Kevin Delaney, Miracle League Vice President and League Coordinator. “We will still be mindful of cleaning equipment, etc., but we are not mandating masks. We believe parents know their child best, and some players have breathing issues. Families are excited too. We are already getting calls about registering for the new season.”  

The new season will begin in mid-May and includes eight games, concluding in mid-July.  

Registration will begin on April 1 and those interested in playing can go the Miracle League website and sign up ahead of time. An email will be sent out when registration opens as a reminder. “The registration fee is $45 per player and that covers the eight-game season,” said Delaney, “but no child will be turned away because of an inability to pay. We have scholarships to help with that.” Each player receives a team shirt and cap.  

The fun is for everyone. “We have several divisions of play including the non-competitive Miracle Division for children 5 to 17 years of age. The competitive Youth Division for those 6 and older, and the non-competitive Adult Division for those 18 or older,” said Mike Sherry, President and Founder of the league. “Children and adults with special needs of any ability are able to play,” said Sherry. “No matter what. We have a division for you.”  

“Our adult league is for anyone 18 and older,” said Chris Sherry, Co-Founder and Adult League Coordinator. “We play our games during the week in the evening, and not only do we play teams within the Miracle League, but we play several other group homes in the area such as the Maguire Home and the Meraky Allegheny Valley School.”  

“But whatever division, whatever the reason for participating whether it is as a player or volunteer, the objective is for the players to have fun!” said Mike Sherry. “We’re working for smiles and there’s always an abundance of them at our games!” 

There is no restriction on who can play as the Miracle League field is adaptive for those using wheelchairs or walkers. “We go out of our way to accommodate any player. We have adaptive equipment such as beeper balls for those who are visually impaired and devices for those who can’t swing a bat. I encourage anyone to come out and give it a try,” said Chris Sherry, who also noted that the Adult League players sometimes play under the lights. “When I turn those lights on, it’s always a thrill!”  

“I believe that the field itself is magic!” said Miracle League Board Member Carol Kolling. “When community members come to see their children play at one of the other fields or people are running or walking, they always stop to watch the game with a smile.” 

Each year about 200-250 players participate in the league in the eight-week spring season and the six-week fall ball season. Volunteers are the lifeblood of the league, and each player is assigned a Buddy to help them on the field. Youth volunteers can be 12-17 years old, and adult volunteers are age 18 and up.  

“We have never put a cap on how many volunteers we take,” said Delaney, who encourages anyone so inclined to give being a volunteer a try. “Volunteers are always needed.” 

“Our volunteers are amazing! Being a Buddy allows them to understand that having a disability does not make you different; it makes you human! When I watch the parents sit on the bench and enjoy the game, I can see the joy in their eyes and happiness in their hearts,” said Kolling. 

There are other opportunities off the field for volunteers. “We always look for announcers. The players love hearing their names being broadcast over the loudspeaker,” said Mike Sherry. 

“For our volunteers, many return year after year because they can feel this impact too. It’s very rewarding to give up an hour or two of your weekend to see a field full of players having a great time,” said Fred Roberts, Board Member. 

The Miracle League promotes friendships and social interaction with peers, as well as physical activity and a spirit of encouragement. It also helps to develop relationships with coaches and members of the extended community. 

Pirates Charities are enthusiastic supporters of The Miracle League. “Chairman, Bob Nutting, was instrumental in building the region’s first ever Miracle League field in Cranberry Township,” said Madison Connelly, Manager of Pirates Charities. “Since then, Bob has been excited to find new ways to support our local Miracle Leagues, which have since expanded to eight in the Pittsburgh region and one in Bradenton.”  

“Of all the major leagues in our culture and sports programs provided through schools and towns, baseball is pretty unique. We see it on TV. Siblings play Little League or in high school. When we recall our own youth and playtime, baseball (and indirectly kickball) was probably the first game we learned. The rules are simple, and it probably wasn’t the first time you used skills like running, throwing or catching. The ubiquity of baseball and low threshold to play makes easy to adapt for players with disabilities,” said Roberts. 

While the Miracle League relies on volunteers, it also relies of the support of the community, especially for financial support. Seneca Valley School District has stepped up to the plate as a major supporter of the Miracle League, hosting a Raiderthon the past seven years.  

“Our Student Council wanted to raise money for Miracle League because it was important to support a local organization,” said Rebecca Beer, Seneca Valley School District Teacher and Senior High Student Council Advisor, who oversees the districts Raiderthon. “We host the Raiderthon event to raise money for Miracle League because we believe that all students deserve an opportunity to play team sports. It’s an important part of life that so many people take for granted. Our students recognize the value that it holds and wanted to give to this cause and raise recognition for it,” said Beer.  

The 8th Annual Raiderthon is scheduled for April 1 from 5-9 p.m. All students and community members are invited to attend with a $5 ticket. Tickets are available for 7th-12th grade students during lunches and community members in the Senior High athletic office.  

“Students are encouraged to fundraise leading up to the event by giving to our GoFundMe (,” said Beer. “During the Raiderthon, the SVSHS lobby and hallways are set-up like a carnival with face painting, balloon artists, an escape room, corn hole, spike ball, and more. The auditorium will have karaoke with a DJ for $1/song and a line dance every hour. The gym will have dodgeball, big ball volleyball, and other activities for grades 9-12. Concessions such as pizza, pretzels, Dilly Bars, Marburger’s drinks, and more will be available. There will be a 50/50 and raffle baskets. Events and refreshments are for a cash only fee, with all money going to Miracle League,” said Beer. To date, Seneca Valley has raised nearly $100,000 for the Miracle League.   

If you can’t participate in the Raiderthon, you can donate to the Miracle League through the league’s website at: 

For anyone considering playing or volunteering, you are guaranteed a good time. “You can’t help but be impacted by what is happening on and off the Miracle League Field. There isn’t a player, parent, or volunteer that doesn’t have a smile on their face when they are at the Miracle League Field. The Miracle League is at the core of what the Cranberry Community is all about. Caring, Sharing, Helping Others and Leaving no one behind is what makes this a great community,” said Board Member Dick Hadley. “You won’t be disappointed if you choose to serve as a coach, a buddy, or announcer; you will find the experience awesome and rewarding. You will be another smiling face who is putting smiles on the faces of those with special needs and will become a very special person serving a very special cause. See you at the field!”  

For more information on The Miracle League of Southwestern Pennsylvania or to register to play or volunteer, visit: 

Remembering Dr. John Orie 

      Dr. John R. Orie passed away peacefully on June 25, surrounded by his family and loved ones. He was a lifelong resident of Allegheny County and a 60-year parishioner of Saint Aidan Catholic Church, formerly Saint Alexis. Dr. Orie’s deep Catholic faith was the foundation of his life, and he attended daily Mass, was a Eucharistic Minister until he was 97 years old and lived his faith life every day. 

      Dr. Orie was born and raised in the Polish Hill section of Pittsburgh. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical College. Doc Orie was a 55-year pioneer physician with UPMC Passavant hospital when it was first located in the Hill District of Pittsburgh when it was formerly called Passavant Hospital. He was a family physician. When Doc retired 25 years ago, his office visits were five dollars, and he still made house calls. He encouraged everyone in the community to get the health care they needed. If they could not afford it, he told his patients not to worry about paying him and provided free medical care. 

      On his days off (Thursdays), he would take a handful of the Orie kids to the inner-city schools, communities and clinics, where he would provide free health care to those who could not afford it.  

       The Orie children thought their father was amazing because he spent this quality time with his kids as busy as he was. Dr. Orie volunteered to do physicals throughout his medical career for athletes attending inner-city schools and at North Catholic High School for its football and basketball teams. He also volunteered to be the team doctor for the Duquesne University football team. In 1996, Dr. Orie came out of retirement to work in his late daughter, Dr. Judith Orie’s (nuclear cardiologist) medical office.    

      In May, Doc celebrated his 99th Birthday with a “Neighborhood Birthday Parade” on Montgomery Road where he resided for 67 years. He received official proclamations from former President Donald Trump, Senator Patrick Toomey, Congressman Conor Lamb, PA State Senator Lindsey Williams; PA House of Representatives Rob Mercuri, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Councilwoman Cynthia Kirk, City of Pittsburgh Councilman Corey O’Connor and Bishop David Zubik honoring his milestone 99th birthday and for being a “community hero.”  

       On May 10, Dr. Orie received the distinguished lifelong McCandless Citizen Award of Recognition by the McCandless Township Council. In addition, on May 11, UPMC Passavant Hospital President Susan Hoolahan and Passavant Foundation Chair, Dr. Daniel R. Sullivan honored Dr. Orie with an official proclamation for his outstanding medical contribution to the medical community and the community at large, as a physician for well over 55 years, and as a “pioneer physician” at UPMC Passavant. Finally, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical School jointly honored Dr. Orie as a distinguished alumnus. 

       The Pittsburgh Penguins honored Dr. Orie with an official Penguins jersey with the number 99 and his name, Dr. Orie, on the jersey’s back.         

     Dr. Orie and the late, Jean Lally Orie had nine children and 17 grandchildren. May he rest in peace! 

Celebrating Men in Business & Health Care

Each year it is Northern Connection’s pleasure to introduce you to the business and professional men in our area.  They come from many different industries and specialties, and each brings his own expertise and experience to make them the best at their chosen profession.

CLICK HERE to read more.