Besides warm spring weather and a multitude of outdoor activities, May 18 brought with it the final game for the Miracle’s League’s spring season. Approximately, 160 kids swarmed the Miracle League Park at Cottonwood Creek Park and settled in for a day of baseball and camaraderie.
The principle behind the Miracle League is simple: put together baseball teams of kids who have a variety of disabilities and give these unconventional athletes the opportunity to compete with a little help from their friends by pairing them up with healthy youngsters, known as ‘buddies.’
Even at the tender age of 10, self proclaimed athlete, Jacob Gorman, has a competitive streak.
“Jacob is very social, and it is hard for him to find peers in a good community for him to play with,” said Jacob’s father, John Gorman. “Jacob considers himself an athlete, so he loves to play.”
The whole family came out to watch Lana Peterson play the last game of the season with her team. Wheelchair bound and non-verbal, she is still able to play sports, giving Lana and her sisters a common bond which has brought them closer.
“It has been a great experience for my daughters, especially for my 10 year old, Anastasia, who is buddying with her own sister. This program has helped them become closer as sisters,” Linnet Peterson said. “Lana grins ear to ear when they are coming into home, and she actually feels like she is participating.
“Lana always comes with the family to her sisters’ events. So this is her event and her time. She enjoys it so much.
“Lana pays more attention to Anastasia at home now. She can’t communicate, but we can see that she is interested in what her sister is doing, and she is taking it in.”
Sitting close by, Lana’s cheering section included her grandparents and uncle.
“You never know what a handicapped child is thinking or feeling, but a lot of the time you can see it in their actions,” Lana’s grandfather, Norman Vinson, said. “I think interacting through the baseball helps bring Lana’s inner feelings out. This is a great program. The Miracle League has been a blessing to the whole family.”
Jon Eig, whose five-year-old son, Aidan, plays in the league, savors the advantages that participation brings to the entire family.
“You really have to network to find things for special needs kids, because there are not a lot of resources out there to help you find those things,” he said. “The Miracle League is a place where he can just be himself, and be around kids who share the same special needs. It lets a kid be a kid. It lets parents relax and gives them a little break because of the buddy system.”
“You get to see these kids do things they didn’t think they would ever be able to do,” said Joe Taylor, the founder of Irving Softball League for Physically Challenged Children. “To see the smiles it brings to their faces is just awesome. To watch the young boys and girls who come out on Saturday evening to buddy with these kids is really heartwarming too.”
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