Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell last weekend threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Frontier Community Services' World Series baseball event.
We won't comment on the quality of Campbell's throw here, other than to note that he was quickly lifted in favor of Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche.
We would like to commend him for the quality of the pitch he made from the bleachers later in the day. While noting the wide range of people with developmental disabilities out on the field, he also pointed out how much fun everyone involved was having.
"We're not even thinking about their disabilities, we're thinking about having fun playing baseball," Campbell said.
Speaking from the personal experience of having a granddaughter with a developmental disability, Campbell said events like Frontier's World Series are important because they allow people with disabilities to feel like they are fully participating in society.
Frontier Community Services staff credit Joe Malatesta, who many might recognize from the time he spends umpiring local ballgames, with hatching the idea. After seven years, the World Series continues to grow, attracting participants from across the Peninsula and other parts of the state.
There are two goals in staging the event -- to provide a fun afternoon of baseball for people who might not otherwise have the opportunity, and to raise community awareness of not just people's disabilities, but of their abilities, too.
On both counts, the World Series has been a success.
Every participant gets a chance to bat, run the bases and play in the field. Some need a little more assistance or guidance, but everyone who wants to, plays. Some are happy to sit in the dugout and be a part of the team.
The community has embraced the event as well. Frontier Executive Director Ken Huff said normally, sponsors that contribute $500 have their name embroidered on one of the teams' caps. This time around, Huff said the event had more sponsors than team caps available. Plenty of volunteers step forward, including the Peninsula Oilers players, who always find themselves truly enjoying a little bit different style of ball. Malatesta is there every year, too, bringing plenty of theatrics to his umpiring schtick.
Support for this event is tremendous, but our community has gone even further in demonstrating its awareness. Sherry Gamble's son Bob, a regular participant in the World Series, once got lost, she said. However, people were able to help him, even though they were strangers. Gamble credits events such as the World Series with encouraging that kind of interaction.
With their World Series baseball event, Frontier Community Services has hit a home run.
Now, if we could just get a new pair of glasses for Malatesta ...
In short: The World Series baseball event has been a success not just on the field, but in raising community awareness off of it.
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