My Son with Autism's Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity at The Ball Park
This post is by Nicole, who recently attended a Minnesota Twins Autism Awareness Game. You can see if there is an Autism Awareness Game coming to your area here.
On May 18, 2014 my family, friends and I attended a baseball game at Target Field. My son, Hunter (11 y/o), has been diagnosed with Autism (high functioning) and this is a story about the day he got to go to the Twins vs. Mariners game. It was Autism Awareness day at the Twins game to top it off!
Hunter had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in a pregame activity on the field and to be the leader of the parade on the field; of course he was excited to say yes!
Around 12:00, we were escorted to the bottom level of the stadium to line up for the parade. Hunter was really excited! When we were able to go out, TC Bear grabbed Hunter’s hand and led us around the field! He was waving to everyone with a huge smile on his face, just soaking up the “fame”!
When we reached 3rd base we stepped to the sidelines to get ready for his next opportunity while the rest of the parade exited the field. We learned Hunter was going to play a game with his sister Josie (8 y/o) on the field.
The Game/Race: They were to run around stations (set up in a mock field display) and put on a certain pieces of clothing. At 1st base they had to put on a jersey, at 2nd base they had to put on baseball pants, and at 3rd base they put on the cleats and helmet (basically having to put on a full Twins uniform).
Once they had it all on they had to run to home plate. Whoever got there first was the winner! The smiles on their faces said it all; they were having a great time! The clothing was some of the Twins gear so they were really big on the kids; while Josie was doing her best to race her brother the pants kept falling down on her. At one point she was running with the pants down her ankles! HAHA TC tried to run interference on Hunter, as a challenge, and I think to help give Josie some time to catch up, Ha-ha; but he got away and ended up winning! It was amazing!
It brought tears to my eyes to see the pure joy him and his sister had on their faces! As Hunter keeps telling everyone, “It is a once in a life time opportunity here. I am going to enjoy it!” And boy, he sure did!
After the race was over we walked off the field with Todd; a Minnesota Twins rep. He took us on a mini tour of the basement level. Hunter was on cloud nine and was soaking it all up. He could not believe it was really happening to him! Man the smiles coming out of that boy was amazing ALL DAY!
Hunter asked to take some pictures and we let him and he captured some pretty cool things! Seeing the world through his eyes is real fun, you see things you never thought about looking at!
On our way out of the game, one of the Twins volunteers asked us if we wanted to go to the field and let the kids run the bases. When we got down to the field we got in line to head onto the field again! The kids, especially Hunter, couldn’t believe they were going on the field TWICE in the same day! They kept saying “how many can say they got to walk the field, play a game, AND run the bases??” They just couldn’t believe all of this was happening for them! After all that excitement we went home! What a day!!
None of this would have been possible if Autism Speaks hadn’t provided this awesome opportunity for our kids! I want to thank the organization so much for this day! I also want to say a big thank you to Todd (with the Minnesota Twins) who coordinated the field stuff also. Hunter, along with his friends and family who were able to join us that day, is forever grateful to them and all the Twins people for this great day! Here's what Hunter wrote about the day:
"I got to see TC Bear and hold his hand. I got to hold TC Bears hand because mom asked if I wanted to be the bring balls out to the field or hold TC Bears hand so I could lead the parade of people. I chose to hold his hand. I got to play a game with Josie. So about Josie is very excited about the game we got to play! So first base we had to put on a shirt, second base we had to put on pants, and third base we had to put on cleats and a helmet! And home plate here we come. I won J I saw the Twins game but we lost the other team won. I was supposed to get my name stitched into my hat but the machine broke. I got to eat mini donuts at the Twins game. After the game I got to run the bases with Josie, Jessica, and other kids and of course myself!"
Overall, this day meant the world to my family!! I will forever remember the pure joy I saw on my children’s faces. A year ago I couldn’t say any of this would have been possible with the behavior issues, changes and other life events that Hunter has gone through ;but he has been working hard with his therapy and his been making great strides. Nothing could make me more proud than to see the progresses, big and small, in my children this past year.
It was a beautiful day for baseball and quality family time.
We are looking forward to FanFest coming up in July where there will be a quiet room and discounted tickets where $5.00 for each ticket goes back to Autism Speaks. Get your discounted tickets here.