Tuesday, June 27, 2017

TEAM (Together Everyone Accomplishes More) by Stephanie Welter

    “Here they come! Wow! They look like they mean business!”
That was the unified chant of the crowd the day the word TEAM took on new meaning for my son and his school mates at The MAC School.
    We love chartering new territory, and although it’s risky, we typically charge forward full steam ahead. Kathryn (the MAC School Director) loves proving people wrong when they express “concern” over our kids trying new activites. That’s what makes it fun. We’ve learned that it always pays off to take those risks.
    This day, was another “first”. The very first softball game EVER played by my son Ben and his classmates. We took our seats in the bleachers, and the kids ran enthusiastically out to the field, suited up, ball caps and all, and gloves in hand. They began to practice and the crowd began to fall silent. I think there was a collective “awe” that we’re really gonna try this and see how the kids do their first time playing softball.
    After a few minutes of watching my son Ben toss the ball to his classmate, we watched the Minnesota Twins van roll up and again began to cheer as we watched TC the bear bounce out of the van, followed by Twins pitcher Hector Santiago! We began clapping as they took the field to practice with the kids.
    When the Minnesota Twins baseball franchise heard about our desire to start the first ever softball team for kids on the spetrum. They got excited and wanted to participate!
     It was what came next that suprised and amzazed even us “seasoned” parents. We stood to sing the national anthem sung by Nate who has the voice of an angel (many kids on the autism spectrum have what’s called “perfect pitch” and it is exactly as it sounds...the ability to sing perfectly on pitch after hearing a note). As soon as he completed the song the empire shouted “Play ball!” and the first  student stood up to bat sending the crowd once again to our feet cheering and shouting encourgement and praises for each swing. Hector Santiago tossed in that first pitch...and...a base hit!! The next child stood up to the plate with therapists, parents and sibblings cheeing them on. On it went in like fashion. Tears stung the sides of my cheeks as I watched my 19 year old son walk up to the plate, take hold of that bat and swing….CRACK! A nice grounder to third base, putting him safely on 1st! All in all he was up to bat twice and got base hits both times. I was felt such pride and such gratitude for this moment...for all these little moments of victorious “firsts.”
    After the game, we all enjoyed snacks and lemonade, marveling at the job well done by the students and staff, telling them so - profously! TC gave hugs and Hector signed autographs and the kids absolutely beamed with pride at having done something new, and having succeeded!
   I was asked to take the microphone and say a few words, so I thanked the staff for working so hard with our kids. Thanked the Twins for their encouragement and support, and reminded the parents of my new favorite accornym:
Stephanie Kay Welter
Mrs. Minnesota International 2017