With help from a volunteer, Jenna Anderson is safe at first base during the inaugural Buddy Ball game at 8 Oaks Park on Saturday. Jenna’s mom, Kimberly, helped organize the Buddy Ball program in Georgetown County.
In an annual rite of spring, hundreds of young baseball players descended on 8 Oaks Park on Saturday to renew their love of the game.
The first to take the field were a group of special needs kids participating in the new “Buddy Ball” program. Everybody got to hit, race around the bases and cross home plate, and everybody had fun.
“It is an opportunity for these kids to get out and enjoy the outdoors and an opportunity for them to spend time with typical kids and be a part of our community,” said Laura Hutto, who brought her son Matthew to play. “And enjoy what most typical kids get to enjoy in the springtime, which is baseball.”
Kimberly Anderson helped start the program to give her daughter Jenna a place to play among her peers.
“It’s really a big deal for us because Jenna was playing in the younger leagues but with everything being so competitive now, you just don’t want to put them out there,” Anderson said.
She tried to start a program last year, but couldn’t get it organized. Jenna used to participate in the Grand Strand Miracle League in Myrtle Beach, but Anderson said it was just too far to drive.
“We wanted something here for Georgetown, Andrews and Pawleys.”
Matthew also participated in the Grand Strand Miracle League.
“We’re just thankful that, living in Georgetown we have the opportunity to participate in something like this for him here, rather than having to make that trip,” Hutto said.
Matthew couldn’t wait to get to the field on Saturday.
“He was excited about getting a new pair of pants and new baseball shoes, the whole garb,” Hutto said. “He was excited. He was up early this morning and was looking forward to coming out here.”
Nathaniel Holmes woke up his mom, Marie, early Saturday, eager to get out to 8 Oaks.
Marie Holmes was thrilled with the new program.
“It means a lot to us because before now there was not a whole lot of things that we could get him in to that he can do,” she said. “He’s going to be with his friends. They’re going to enjoy each other and just have a good time.”
Dannielle Weber was a little reluctant at first to take the field, but joined in after seeing how much fun the other children were having.
“It’s very enjoyable,” said Dannielle’s mom, Leslie. “It’s something that we’ve been looking for, for her to do, because there’s not a lot of groups in Georgetown for special needs children.”
Georgetown High School student Shelby Jones was one of the volunteers working with the kids on the field. She wants to become a teacher and work with kids with special needs.
“I just feel like I should help them because they’re so in need,” Jones said. “It was so exciting. It was really good to see our community come out.”
In a day filled with baseball at 8 Oaks, no other games were scheduled at the same time as Buddy Ball, to give other players and fans a chance to watch and cheer.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Hutto said. “The joy for these kids. And [Matthew] will talk about it all day today, all week. ‘When can I do it again?’ ”
Parents who want to get their child involved in the Buddy Ball program should contact Adam Anderson at Anderson’s Body Shop in Georgetown at 843-546-9801.
The schedule is: March 30, April 20 and 27, and May 11 and 25. Games start at 10 a.m. Organizers are currently working with the county to get access to 8 Oaks Park for games.
To keep up to date with the schedule, find “Buddy Ball Georgetown SC” on Facebook.
By Chris Sokoloski
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