One local organization is helping children to hit a home run.
Buddy Ball just wrapped up with their final game of the season held on Saturday, June 7. Buddy Ball pairs children who have a mental or physical disability with an able bodied “buddy.” The sport provides these children with a special opportunity.
Buddy Ball is an extension of Daniel Booth Youth Sports and is associated with the local Babe Ruth League. The Daniel Boone league started six years ago “because siblings were sitting on the sidelines,” Traci Huddleson, Douglassville, said. Huddleson is the Daniel Boone Girls’ Softball coach and coach and organizer of Buddy Ball. This year 65 buddies and 20 adult volunteers participated. And with over 40 players coming out to play this year, the team had enough of a turn out to have two divisions.
One division pairs a buddy with an athlete who needs assistance, who stay together as a pair for all innings. In this game, the buddy assists the athlete in the least restrictive way possible. The second is a “unified division” or more traditional game, where the players and buddies play as individuals on a team together.
“It gives the kids the experience of a real baseball game... the kids feel included,” Tom Curley said. Curley’s son has been playing on the team since it began. “It brings the community together,” he said.
“Anyone who can benefit is welcome to join. Buddy or player,” Huddleson said.
Buddy Abbie Reina, 14, started volunteering because her brother started on the team. Popscicle Patrol is an options for those who are eager to volunteer, but have yet to meet the age requirement of being at least nine years of age to be a buddy. Huddleson refers to the Popscile Patrol as the “buddies in training.” Sean Zamichieli, 13, Douglassville, has been on the team for the last five years. “My parents are good friends with the people who run it, that’s how I heard about it,” he said. What keeps him coming back year after year? “All the smiles on the kids’ faces,” Zamichieli said. Buddy Ball provides an “equal experience to share all the fun.”
Corey Mitchell, 19, has been playing Buddy Ball for the past six years. This year, Mitchell played on the unified team. “Seeing all the kids makes me feel younger,” Mitchell said about what keeps him motivated to play. Mitchell loves batting and pitching; his favorite team is the Philadelphia Phillies.
“We welcome anyone. They should come out and support us,” he said, encouraging the community to fill the stands. “The fans cheer us on a lot,” Mitchell said.
Daniel Boone’s Buddy Ball is funded through local sponsor “A Smile From Jason Foundation.”
Follow The Southern Berks News on Tout @southernberksnews, Twitter and Instagram @srthnberksnews and visit us on Facebook.com/southernberksnews