On August 27th I participated in a volunteer event with Dreams for Kids DC, a non-profit organization that works to empower impoverished and disabled youth. The Extreme Recess program gives these kids a chance to participate in sports which they would not ordinarily have access to – in this case, an adaptive softball/baseball clinic.
I have played softball since I was 8 years old and also played basketball, volleyball and tennis at various times. Growing up I LOVED playing sports and it was a big part of my life. Beyond the joy of playing sports, I really do think that being involved in sports helps kids learn a lot of different lessons (probably why I love inspirational sports movies so much!!!). I seriously could quote a good majority of Remember the Titans and definitely quacked at Mr. Ducksworth when I saw him make an appearance as a DA in the new movie, The Other Guys. Anyways, I think sports have tremendous value and I was very excited to participate in an event that would bring these opportunities to disabled children.
The event was held in cooperation with the Washington Nationals and was a very cool chance to be down on the field. After a brief introduction from a Nats rep and Andrew Horn of Dreams for Kids DC, Kareem Dale (Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy) threw a ceremonial first pitch and then the clinic began!
I led a group of kids through stations that covered batting, pitching, fielding and base running. Various Nats’ coaches worked with the kids at each station and they loved it! The day was free of mishaps – well, other than one of the boys losing his pants while running the bases – and it was the consensus that batting was the favorite – no surprise there. One of the boys told me with complete confidence that he could easily hit a ball that would break the scoreboard.
After the clinic, the Nats served up some hot dogs and passed out bat bags and game tickets to all the children. Once the hot dog eating was over, Craig Stammen walked around to each table to sign autographs and talk with the kids. He was great with them! He took his time and signed anything and everything that the kids put in front of him, answered questions and took photos (he was even nice enough to take one with me, despite the fact that I was not one of the kids and felt kind of like an ass for asking him). His handler was a little weird and seemed to be uncomfortable around kids; but, the kids were too excited about Stammen and the day to notice and I just found his uneasiness to be kind of funny.
Overall, it was a really fun event and the kids seemed to enjoy it! Dreams for Kids DC did a great job planning the event and the Nats were wonderful!
During a MASN interview, Craig Stammen discusses Extreme Recess with Dreams for Kids.
The Washington Post also covered the event: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2010/08/27/GA2010082704808.html