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Buddy Ball ends a successful season

For the fourth year in a row, Buddy Ball provided opportunities for children and adults with special needs in Pearl River County to play baseball and softball games.

The program has grown each year, and P.Y.A.A. Baseball Vice President Corey Dorn said this was the biggest year yet.

“We had 80 to 85 players this year,” Dorn said. “If we keep growing, we may have to expand and add another night for games because right now we only have games on Friday evenings.”

Dorn is just one of many volunteers who puts on the baseball and softball games for the athletes. This year’s list of volunteers included the PRC Blue Angels Dance team, Picayune Memorial High School band, and the local fire department along with many other community members.

Each volunteer in Buddy Ball is paired with an athlete, whom they help when at the plate batting, or out in the field throwing the ball.

“We had an increase in volunteers this year, and we couldn’t do Buddy Ball the way it is without the help of the Kiwanis Club of Picayune,” Dorn said.

The community has embraced Buddy Ball from the beginning, and Dorn is hoping that acceptance and excitement for the program will help Buddy Ball reach new heights.

“It’s great. I think it’s really been an asset for the community,” Dorn said. “It’s wonderful to watch the athletes with their Buddy, and the friendships they form are really lifelong friendships.”

As the program grows larger and larger with each passing year, Dorn hopes the program can move to a facility that is more accessible to wheelchair-bound athletes. Fields currently used at Friendship Park can at times be muddy and wet, so relocation of the program to a designated field may be the next big step.

“Right now we play all the games at Friendship Park, but hopefully as time goes on we can get our own designated field made of turf, or some other material, that is more suitable for wheelchair-bound players.”

That isn’t the only kind of expansion on Dorn’s mind. Over the next couple years Dorn would like to see the program gain even more participants, and perhaps even start providing other sporting opportunities to children and adults with special needs. He listed basketball, soccer and football as possible future options.

Registration for the next iteration of Buddy Ball will open in the spring. Anyone interested in volunteering or participating in Buddy Ball can contact Corey Dorn or Trevor Adam by visiting pyaabaseball.net.