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Buddy League spring season in full swing 

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The sky was cloudy Saturday, April 16, but the faces of the Buddy League baseball players were bright because their spring season was beginning. Mayor Douglas Athas was on hand to throw out the first pitch of the season.

According to Buddy League founder Heather Miller more than 150 players signed up for the spring season. She started the league in 2002 for kids with special needs who are usually excluded from these types of activities. She and her husband Curt saw the need when they were told that their special needs son Ben would no longer be able to play on a team for nondisabled children. The officials said that they could no longer accommodate Ben’s needs.

Often, great things come from times of pain and frustration and this was the case for Buddy League.

The organization’s website, www.buddyleague.org, explains that Buddy League is about much more than baseball.

“It is about building an accepting community.  It is about changing perspectives.  It is about eliminating stereotypes and eliminating fear.”

The mom of twins that are playing this season is excited to see her sons be able to participate in the baseball league and loves having the opportunity to watch them play. This is an experience the mom would not be able to have if not for Buddy League and she’s grateful.

Each player has a nondisabled buddy who provides the help they need with batting and running the bases. The relationships between the buddies and the players are special and the buddies are usually the ones who learn the most from the friendships.

The website describes the buddy system as follows:

“One of the aspects of Buddy League that I [Miller] am most proud of is the use of peer volunteers. They learn by witnessing and assisting the players. They see what love and true friendship are all about. They now see that children with disabling conditions have many of the same needs and wants as they have. They need to be loved, accepted, appreciated, encouraged, have friends and have fun.”

buddyBuddies Lauren, Emily and Shannon are students from Bishop Lynch High School who love seeing the smiles on all the kids’ faces.

“I love the kids’ attitudes and how much fun they have,” Lauren said. “It’s a great experience for them and the buddies.”

Emily added that she feels that having the opportunity to participate is a blessing.

Players Vincent and John love playing baseball on Buddy League. Their favorite parts are hitting the ball and running and sliding. Brothers Nicholaus and Benjamin also love playing and their favorite part is hitting.

Spring season games will be held every Saturday through May 28, excluding Saturday, May 14. There are five games, each one hour in length, with the first starting at 9 a.m. and the last at 1 p.m. There is also a fall season. The games are at Garland’s Bradfield Park.

Visit www.buddyleague.org for more information.