Family who inspired Space Coast Field of Dreams talks about impact of all-accessible sports complex

Brittany Klenotich has cerebral palsy and a hard time communicating, but she lit up like stadium lights when FOX 35 met her at the Space Coast Field of Dreams, billed as Florida's first all-accessible sports complex.

Her mom, Denise Sinnott-Klenotich, said Brittany was six years old when she met Jim Tapp, a firefighter who moved to Brevard County to retire. He believed that "if you build it, they will come." She became emotional talking about Jim, who passed away in 2020.

"So much joy. Every holiday, we had a Christmas party here, Halloween parties – anything I said, he ran with," she explained.

She said he worked 20 hard years to make the sports complex a reality after finding out the county had no safe, accessible place for those with special needs to play sports.

"With extensive therapies and treatments, she has beaten all odds. So I learned from that, that I don’t take ‘no’ as an answer, and we don’t use the word 'can't' in our home. It’s not allowed," Brittany's mom said.

Brittany was Jim's first inspiration for the sports complex, which opened in 2016, after raising $5 million in donations and in state and local contributions. The non-profit, now managed by the City of West Melbourne, has basketball, golf, soccer, and baseball fields with safety measures like rubber floors for those with all abilities to use.

"It's just a beautiful place for people with disabilities and actually anyone to just come and just play and be together," said Roz Weiss, the president of Space Coast Field of Dreams.

Denise said Jim and Brittany's relationship was the foundation the space coast field of dreams was built upon.

"She is really, honestly, the most kindest, loving soul, but she is a spit fire and I think that’s why Jim loved her so much."

Brittany is now 23. During the pandemic, the complex was used as a COVID-19 testing center and Denise said the crowds and families that once filled the seats and concession stand lines faded. Now, Denise is working to ensure other local athletes can have a journey like Brittany's. 

"I’m trying so hard behind the scenes, Jim," she cried. "To keep your legacy alive and hope everyone makes you proud."