Back at the beginning of the year when it was time to think about signing up for spring baseball, Ross decided he wanted to take the season off. It wasn't a decision he came to quickly. Even after being told several times by the coaches of two teams recruiting him that he would be one of the starters this year, he still really felt like he wanted to take the season off. Just at the time of his diabetes diagnosis, the season would have been starting. Coincidence? Probably not. We're grateful for the break to get use to our new life.
Also before his diagnosis, he did decide he wanted to participate in Challenger Baseball, and it worked out perfectly. Challenger baseball is an amazing thing. In our small community, it consisted of two teams that played each other each Saturday morning for about a month. It is a program for disabled children ages 5-18. Ross was a "buddy." The buddies duties were to make sure their partners didn't get hurt. They stood next to them in the outfield, and they helped them bat and run the bases. The children's disabilities ranged from very mild (some of the kids you couldn't tell what was "wrong" with them), to pretty severe (autism, cerebral palsy, retardation, etc...).
It was a touching experience to say the least. The first game we attended, Edward and I pretty much bawled through. Each player was pitched to (or used the tee) until they got a hit. Then, they ran the bases, getting a "home run" each time at bat. You can't imaging their joy as they ran the bases. They had huge smiles, and many would raise their arms and cheer for themselves as they ran. The audience cheered loudly for each child each time at bat. While they were running, the pitcher would throw or roll balls to each player in the outfield. They would then throw it back in.
At the first game, this little guy with Down's Syndrome came to the fence and looked each audience member in the face. when he got to us, he asked, "Who are you here for?" When I replied, "We're here to watch you!" he just skipped off back to his base with a HUGE smile, as if I'd made his day. Edward and I turned to each other and cried.