Project 40: Volunteer with Buddy League

My husband, Rob, is a high school choir director.  When he started his current job about seven years ago, we first met the Miller family.  Three of the Millers’ four boys have been in Rob’s choirs.  The fourth has special needs.  Heather Miller, the boys’ mother, started Buddy League in 2002 because she wanted to provide recreational activities for children with special needs.

Over the years, we have fallen in love with Buddy League and what it does both for children with special needs and the “buddies” who help them.  Rob’s students have routinely served as “buddies” who help the kids play the game.  (Each special needs child is paired with a “buddy” who helps him or her play the game.)  We have always said that some day we really wanted Abby to be a buddy for Buddy League.

Today was the first day of the season for Buddy League.  When Rob told me that his pop group was going to sing the National Anthem at the games, I thought it was a great opportunity for a project.  I figured Abby was way too young to be a buddy, but maybe we could take drinks for the players or something like that.  So, Rob called Heather to find out what we could do to help.  Much to my surprise, Heather said that Abby could participate as a “buddy.”

So, bright and early this morning, Abby and Rob headed over to the field to prepare for the game.  Jake and I came to watch.  Here are Abby and Rob at the game…

I do think that Abby was a little too young to really participate as a buddy today.  To top it off, we went to the Rangers’ game last night, so she was up late, very tired, and pretty cranky.  But, it was still a great experience.  I love all the hoopla and fanfare they have for the games.  They have a public address system and announce each kid that comes up to bat, they give out pom-poms and signs, and most of the fans have Buddy League shirts to match the teams.  They don’t keep score (at least I didn’t see it if they did).  It’s all about allowing everyone to participate and have a good time.  Here’s Jake cheering on the teams with his pom-pom…

 A handful of Rob’s students sang the national anthem (beautifully, of course) and Rob got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.  I happened to bump into someone I knew from law school years ago, and his child was participating in Buddy League for the first time.  It was great to hear he and his wife talk about how excited they are for their son to participate and how wonderful they think Buddy League is.

We absolutely love Buddy League at our house, and we plan to make helping with Buddy League a staple in the Draper household in the years to come.  I’m not sure exactly when Abby will be old enough to truly “get” being a buddy, but it certainly won’t hurt exposing her to this at an early age.  It’s never too early to teach children about tolerance, helping those who need it, and acting loving towards all people, special needs or not.  If you live in or near Garland and want a heart-warming way to spend a Saturday morning, you should go cheer on the kids at Buddy League.  You can view the schedule and details on their website here.

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