ABC Law Centers supports teen's Special Olympics softball field

There are 146 athletes currently playing adaptive sports in the Huron Valley area. Unfortunately, none of the current softball fields in the area are designed specifically for children with disabilities. Nicole Long, a senior at Lakeland High School, is on a mission to change that.

"I want to change the social and cultural feeling surrounding special needs," stated Long, who has worked with special needs athletes in the past through the Special Olympics and the Miracle League of Plymouth.

Through her close working relationship with the Special Olympics of Michigan, the ambitious teen has decided to build a field designed to remove the barriers that keep children with cognitive and physical disabilities off the softball field, allowing them to experience the joy of America's favorite pastime.

"Having somewhere they can call their own field is such a great thing," explained Long, a longtime Girl Scout and member of the National Honor Society. "I want to spread the word that Huron Valley tackles this sort of project and encourage other communities to follow suit; being the first positive change is really difficult, but once you see something else come together, it's easy to follow suit."

According to the high school senior, the adaptive softball field will cost approximately $10,000. She's raised part of the funds online from her GoFundMe account. Other donations have poured in from the community and local businesses like Reiter & Walsh, P.C., ABC Law Centers. In honor of the firm's 20th anniversary in business, it recently donated $500 to help make the softball field a reality.

Reiter & Walsh, P.C. is a long-time champion of adaptive recreation programs in the community.

"It's a great opportunity for our firm to be able to give back and participate in these specialized recreational leagues. We want to give every child an opportunity to play sports, especially softball, T-ball, or baseball," stated Jesse Reiter, the firm's founder. "We are extremely proud to play a small part in contributing to this project, and we always look for opportunities to help make our community better."

The field will be located at White Lake Middle School. A current underused field will be renovated and designed to accommodate the needs of children with disabilities. Field details include handicap-accessible walkways, a covered dugout to protect players from foul balls, and small field size to accommodate those with physical challenges. Following its completion, the Special Olympics of Michigan will coordinate its games. The field will be maintained by Huron Valley.

"There's so much joy in this project," stated Long. "The most exciting part will be coming home from college and seeing teams play at the field."

Published: Mon, Oct 09, 2017