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Play ball!: Frontier hosts 6th baseball event

Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Play ball!"

Those two words are a part of American culture. Thanks to the efforts of Frontier Community Services, there's a whole new group of players waiting to here them.

"The goal of the event is for people with developmental disabilities to play the great American pastime of baseball, and to be involved in a sporting activity that they otherwise wouldn't be able to be involved in," said Kathy Kenner, office manager for Frontier and the coordinator for the sixth annual World Series Baseball event.

Among its many programs, Frontier provides assistance for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Kenner credited Joe Malatesta, a local baseball enthusiast, with getting the event going in 2004. Since then, it's grown every year, going from four teams to six teams in 2007. Kenner said she has 64 players signed up for this year's event, which is slated for Saturday at the Kenai Little League Fields on South Spruce Street.

Sign-in for World Series participants begins at 11 a.m., giving players enough time to change into their team T-shirt and ball cap before the opening ceremony slated for noon.

"It's just going to be a great time," Kenner said.

While more than 60 ballplayers will be participating, Kenner said anywhere from 200 to 300 people will be on hand for the event -- making for a great atmosphere. Kenner said the event draws great community support, from the more than 50 Frontier staffers who volunteer for the event, to the 45 different community sponsors.

"That's awesome. We just have people that really enjoy being our sponsor," Kenner said.

Kenner said members of the Peninsula Oilers, a collegiate summer baseball team, will be on hand to assist participants, and local radio personality Dan Gensel is slated to do the announcing. A number of peninsula dignitaries also are expected to be present. The day finishes with a barbecue.

"We do get a lot of community support for this event -- because we live in an awesome community," Kenner said.

Kenner said organizers will find a way for anyone with a developmental disability to participate, whether that means help with swinging a bat or running the bases.

"It doesn't matter what kind of disability -- people can come play baseball with us," Kenner said.

While many of the participants are Frontier consumers, Kenner said people who use other agencies, both locally and across the peninsula, have joined the fun, as have people in the community who have heard about the game and just want to come out for a good time.

"We encourage anybody with a developmental disability to watch, participate -- whatever they feel comfortable with," Kenner said. "It's our mission to facilitate that for people with diabilities."

For more information on the Frontier Community Services World Series Baseball event, call Kenner at 262-6331 or e-mail kkenner@fcsonline.org.

Will Morrow can be reached at will.morrow@peninsulaclarion.com.



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