Bradley Blizard is being honored as a Champion of Change for his Kiwanis International service.
As a seventh grader, I was invited to volunteer at the High Point Miracle League, an organization that provides an opportunity for children with mental and physical disabilities to participate in baseball games. Miracle League builds flat fields out of a material that makes it possible for children to run the bases even if they are in wheelchairs or on crutches or walkers. Knowing the joy of baseball myself, I thought this was a fantastic idea.
I spoke with John Gibbs, our advisor for the Kiwanis Builders Club at Jamestown Middle School. I told Mr. Gibbs about the Miracle League and of my interest in volunteering with this unique program. We both agreed that this would be a great opportunity to involve the JMS Builders Club. Mr. Gibbs, a great encourager, said, “Set up a plan, and we’ll go do it!”
I began my research on the Miracle League website. Volunteers can fill a variety of positions like DJ, announcer, scorekeeper or player “buddy.” I created a signup sheet for each position at each of the three games being played on a given Saturday morning. I sent Mr. Gibbs a copy of my spreadsheet, and he asked me to bring the project before the board and make a motion to get it approved. I made a presentation to our board, explaining what the Miracle League was about and how we could help. After my proposal, a unanimous decision was made to get involved.
The project I started three years ago is still in existence today. The JMS Builders Club has adopted the Miracle League project as an annual service project, and has helped more than 100 disabled children each year enjoy the game of baseball. Since this project has been so rewarding and enjoyable for the students in the Jamestown Builders Club, the club has plans this year to support a similar program in Greensboro: the Challenger League, which is sponsored by the ARC of Greensboro.
It’s easy to take for granted the body I use daily, the blessings I have been given and the hardships I haven’t faced. These kids and their families don’t deserve what they go through. It feels so great helping these kids find joy in a game I love. I am so thankful I got the chance to set up an ongoing volunteer opportunity so other Builders Club members can witness a smile on a kid’s face as he or she swings a bat, throws a ball or makes a play.
Now that I am in high school, I am getting my baseball teammates involved. Next season I hope to recruit players from all our area high schools to volunteer. Hey, take me out to the ballpark—the chance to volunteer and have fun never ends!
Bradley Blizard is a high school sophomore at Ragsdale High School in Jamestown, North Carolina, and member of the Ragsdale High School Key Club