There were plenty of reasons to cheer at the pre T-ball field Saturday.
On April 11, Emily Bush — an occupational therapist and the owner of Fun to Functional PLLC — met with the Altus Recreation Advisory Committee to get approval for the use of its fields for a program she spearheaded called “A League of Our Own.”
“I’m an occupational therapist and I really wanted the kids I work with to experience the fun and sociableness that sports can provide,” Bush said. “I wanted their families and friends to get to cheer them on in the stands and I also wanted the volunteers and students in the community to have the opportunity and chance to get to meet these special kids. Lawton and Elk City both have Miracle Leagues, but it takes a good amount of money to be able to make the specialized rubber field and use their logos. I would love to have that in Altus one day, but until then I thought the name ‘A League of Our Own’ would work perfectly.”
And so the league kicked off 9 a.m Saturday and it was a positive experience all around, with 17 players taking the field and more than 40 volunteers around to help out in any way they could.
Of the helpers, a good portion of them acted as “buddies” to the players. Buddies are people who pair up with the players and help them hit, get around the bases and play in the field. They serve as mentors and personal cheerleaders to the children they are paired with and it was a valuable experience for both player and “buddy.”
“My 10-year-old served as a buddy for a younger student from Hollis,” said Amanda Davis of her son Bray Davis. “I asked him why he wanted to participate and he said he thought it would be fun to get to help other kids have fun. When I asked him what was the best part of the day, he told me the best part of the day was when the crowd cheered for each person and made them feel special.”
Coach Weston Winters and his junior high and high school baseball team from Navajo were on hand as were the Altus High School cheerleaders. Both groups cheered on the players and helped make the day special for all involved.
Miss Altus Lexie Herron threw out the first pitch of the game and Dave Milcarek from Dave’s Dugout came to perform the national anthem.
“I really enjoyed being a part of creating more opportunities for these students with special needs,” said Herron. “Being a part of it was a really rewarding experience for me.”
Bush hopes to include other sports in the near future so these children can participate.
“I have met some great people with the City of Altus Parks and Recreation department,” Bush said. “They would love to offer basketball in December and I an also thinking about swimming and bowling for next year.”
Local sponsors got involved with the project as well, including: Smith’s Firestone, Miller Lawn Care, 1907 T-Shirts and Fun to Functional Therapy. Bush also had several personal donations as well.
The final game for the league will be 9 a.m. Saturday.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.