Children with Special Needs Take Part in a Dream Team
WESLACO – For children with special needs, finding somewhere to play can sometimes be challenging. However, there is now help available for children in the Rio Grande Valley.
The name of the game is baseball and for years special needs children in the mid-Valley didn’t have a baseball league to call their own.
But thanks to Weslaco PONY Baseball and Softball – special needs children can now be part of a “dream team.” They call the place they play the field of dreams.
“You come out here and you see the teams playing, you get emotional. It’s the excitement. The parents get excited,” Abel Gorena Jr. with PONY Baseball said. “The kids get excited. They interact with each other. That’s important to them.”
The Weslaco PONY Champions League was created three years ago to address a problem. They said special needs children in the area didn’t have a place to play baseball before.
“It’s kind of like they’ve been sitting on the outside of that field for many years, watching their other siblings play the game. But now it’s their turn to come in,” Oscar Caballero with Weslaco PONY League said.
One of the players in the league is April Aguayo. She said it can be difficult growing up with a disability.
“It’s like we’re invisible. They forget about us once we’re older because we have nothing else to do, but sit there and feel sad about ourselves because we have disabilities,” she said.
On the field, April and her teammates aren’t anything by invisible – they’re all stars.
There are real games with real officials, real scores and real emotions.
“A lot of us tend to forget that the special needs are as human as we are. A little bit of this game that they play brings a lot from your heart. You learn to appreciate life as it should be,” Elia Rodriguez said.
Weslaco PONY League volunteers provide the guidance and the children provide the highlights. For the fans in the stands, it’s a welcomed sight.
“She wanted to run. She wanted to play,” April’s grandmother, Mary Lou Lopez, said. “She wanted to hit that ball and make those home runs her brothers and sisters would do; now she’s doing it.”
At the end of the season, every player receives a medal and a picture. They’re mementos that remind the children that they can be champions in life.
The Weslaco Champions League isn’t the only one in the Valley. If you have a PONY baseball in your area, you can register a Champions League and it’s absolutely free. You can visit PONY League: Champions for more information.
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