Let’s play Buddy Ball: PYAA hosts games for individuals with special needs

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2016

running the bases: At left, a Buddy Ball participant and his buddy, Corey Dorn, prepare to run to home base.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

running the bases: At left, a Buddy Ball participant and his buddy, Corey Dorn, prepare to run to home base.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Saturday, after numerous cancellations due to inclement weather, the Picayune Youth Athletic Association was able to host opening ceremonies for their newest program, Buddy Ball.
The program is the brainchild of PYA/A baseball president Corey Dorn, vice-president of girls’ softball Norman Wheat and city of Picayune Parks and Recreation Director and Buddy Ball commissioner Trevor Adam.
It’s a non-competitive baseball and softball program for children and adults with disabilities, Dorn said in a February interview. People five and older can participate.
Saturday, 65 children and adults took to the field at Friendship Park to play ball.
During each game, players are assigned a buddy. If he or she is unable to swing a bat or throw a ball, the buddy assists them. Buddies will also push wheelchair bound players to the bases.
The program is offered at no cost to individuals with special needs and open to children and adults in Pearl River and Hancock Counties.
“It was one of the most remarkable impacts I’ve ever had in my life,” Adam said. “The first moment the volunteers and I took a break, we kept saying, ‘this is amazing.’ The smiles on the faces of players and parents showed me how grateful they were to be part of a team. Sports are made to be shared and teach you a lot about life. I couldn’t thank the city of Picayune enough for taking a chance on me as park director and allowing me the freedom to start something of this magnitude.”
The Kiwanis Club of the Greater Picayune Area is a sponsor of Buddy Ball and a check for $3,200 was presented during opening ceremony, Adam said.
Adam said it was remarkable to see the impact the program had on parents, who were shedding tears as they watched their child round the bases and swing a bat.
“It’s a moment that you will always cherish,” Adam said. “Corey and I both have a passion for it and I want to thank the man above for allowing me to collaborate with him. This is a big step for our community, being able to develop a program like this.”
Adam said he is searching for grant opportunities and hopes to one day build a field dedicated to Buddy Ball.
“It went really great,” Dorn said. “We enjoyed it and we know the kids and parents did as well. You could see the smiles on the faces of parents and players. Even the numerous volunteers commented on the great experience they had. I hope we can keep up with the good weather and looking forward to future games.”
The children’s Buddy Ball games will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursdays and adult games will be held on Fridays at 6 and 7 p.m. at Friendship Park.
“We encourage the public to come watch and cheer on the athletes,” Adam said.
People interested in volunteering as a buddy can contact Dorn at 601-273-1871 or Adam 601-916-9016.
Learn more about PYAA through Facebook at PYAA Baseball and PYAA Softball.

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