So every Friday afternoon Aidan gets to go play Challenger baseball along with lots of other children all who have varying degrees of Autism. I have to say I missed the first 2 weeks as I was working late but made it to last fridays game. Its not really a game although there are 2 teams. No one is keeping score. Everyone gets to play. The kids seem to span the ages from probably 4 years old to maybe 12 years old give or take a bit. But in reality who cares how old they are or their degree of ability or sportsmanship. Hell who even cares if they are running around the field or paying attention.
The truth of the matter is that these kids with or without athletic ability, with or without understanding the game, got to do something they wouldn't normally be able to do thanks to a group of people who volunteer their time to make this happen. Each kid is paired with a buddy, a young boy or girl maybe in middle school who's job it is to help them, watch them, run with them. They are their buddies and basically keep them out of trouble. It is amazing to see a kid who is 10-12 years old making sure the kid they are paired with is ok, having fun and helping to teach them how to play baseball. Aidan being the runner he is puts his buddy to the test apparently all the time. The kid just does what he has to in order to look after Aidan as do the other kids each one looking after someone. They do it just because.
While I know there are a number of adults who make this happen, I will be honest here and say I only know 2 of them. One i just met and one i know as he is a gym teacher and football coach at Brick High School. The gentlemen I just met is named Dominick. I am guessing he is one of the main guys or at least a somewhat take charge person. We only talked for a few minutes as I thanked him for working with Aidan. He is a grandfather whose grandson now in his 20's is autistic. He volunteers his time. The other is Chris Blackburn who not only teaches gym and coaches sports at the high school, but then also volunteers his time working with these kids.
I really wish I was able to truly express the thanks that I feel for all of these volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to provide my son as well as other kids in our area, the ability to learn baseball and good sportsmanship, as well as be able to have some out door fun. They get to belong to a team, have a coach, and feel like they are really doing something. For anyone who has ever volunteered to coach a sport, this is a huge commitment. The idea of coaching special needs children, a major commitment of time and patience.
So to you Dominick, Chris, and all the other adult and kid volunteers I don't know, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. Thank you for giving your time and dedication. Thank you for caring enough to show up each week. Thank you for the patience you have. Thank you for being who you are, truly special people. May your lives be filled with health, happiness, and maybe a little wealth wouldn't hurt either. But, THANK YOU