SPOKANE, Wash. - For weeks, the KXLY Extreme Team has looked over nominations from leagues and schools wanting their baseball fields renovated for this year's Diamonds and Dreams project. Saturday, the team announced the winner: Bambino Buddy Ball.
Buddy Ball is for special needs kids up to the age of 20. They play baseball with buddies who help with everything from pushing wheelchairs down the base paths to helping the players hit the ball. They've never had their own field, though, and that prompted parents and fans to nominate the team.
"Buddy Ball provides a sense of 'normalcy' that helps these kids," one parent wrote. Another said, "Everyone, no matter their ability in sports or life, should have the chance to play ball."
KXLY4's Mark Peterson surprised the team Saturday morning during the opening ceremonies for Spokane Indians Youth Baseball. He told the team, "Starting on May 12th for four days, we'll destruct... and, construct a brand new baseball field."
The Extreme Team, with the help of Hometown Chevrolet and volunteers from the Washington National Guard, will build a new field. It will be part of Andrew Rypien Field in North Spokane. The field, designed especially to meet Buddy Ball's needs, will have things like wider base paths that will be covered with a surface that can easily accommodate wheelchair-bound base runners.
"Every year, it's a struggle to get the fields where I can have the kids in wheelchairs not go head-first out of their wheelchairs," said Buddy Ball mom Leslie Sigrah. "Cause those kids want to go fast!"
"This gift is an extraordinary blessing to give these kids," said one parent. "Really, it's making a dream come true for them."
The Hometown Chevy Dealers are excited to be a part of the project again this year. They say last year's project was special, but this year will even more emotional for the entire team of volunteers.
"Chevy, baseball and apple pie - it's perfect for us," said Andrew Talley of Hometown Chevrolet. "We're just really grateful to give back to the community and this is a great way to do it."
KXLY4 will follow the progress of the Buddy Ball field starting Monday, May 12th. The big reveal is Thursday, May 15th on KXLY4 News at 6:00.