When many students make it out to the baseball field it’s for a few hours of team pride and relaxation – but when Christian Norton heads out on the diamond it’s to make a difference.
Norton is a volunteer for Miracle League, a national baseball league for children with disabilities. There are 320 leagues across America as well as in Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia.
“The kids on the field have so much joy,” he said. “Something about their spirit is so uplifting.”
Grace Whetstone, the Executive director of Miracle League DFW, said the league is for people with all types of disabilities — physical and mental.
“We try to pair every player with a volunteer buddy,” she said. “Ultimately, we need over 700 volunteers to pair up with the players in the league.”
Norton worked with a player named Chris who was in a wheelchair. He helped him play in the outfield and wheel around the bases.
“Chris was an awesome guy,” Norton said. “Really all the players wanted was someone to hang out and talk with them on the field. I got to know so many cool kids and learn all about their stories.”
Terry and Cathy McGillivray have also been volunteering with the Miracle League since 2007.
“The kids brighten my life,” Terry said. “The kids are amazing and it is so rewarding to see them play every Saturday.”
Cathy said some of the kids have grown up playing together and have become the best of friends.
“They don’t care if someone needs help batting and they don’t care if someone hits it over the fence,” she said. “They just cheer for each other and help each other have fun playing baseball.”
The Miracle League serves more than 200,000 children and young adults with disabilities.
Whetstone said the biggest challenge is finding people to be volunteer buddies.
“People are needed to announce the games, coach the teams and help the players on the field,” she said. “Even if you have never played baseball, you can still be such a help out here with the kids.”
Whetstone’s favorite thing to see is when a child actually experiences the game of baseball.
“Parents put their kids in the league dreaming and hoping their kids will experience the game,” she said. “Not many kids actually catch a ball and very few hit home runs, but to see a dad run to home plate and lift his child in the air after a home run is what makes this job so great.”
The Miracle League has games all day on Saturdays for six weeks in the Fall and six weeks in the Spring. For more information about volunteering for the league, click here.