This is posted as part of our Summer Intern Blog Series. Be sure to come back each week as interns from around the country share their summer experiences with us!
By: Lauren Benda, @LaurenBenda
The West Michigan Miracle League is an organization that believes every child deserves the chance to play baseball. It also exemplifies the fact that the only disability in life is a bad attitude. My time with the Whitecaps has not only been a learning experience in my professional life, but it has also shown me that baseball is changing lives. Whether it is watching your favorite Major League player hit a walk-off home run to win the World Series or getting a foul ball tossed to you, memories are created through baseball. For me, my all-time favorite baseball memory is volunteering with the West Michigan Miracle League. That was the day I realized that we all have the power to do something, and everybody can achieve anything.
The West Michigan Miracle League is an organization that allows anybody with physical or mental disabilities to play baseball on Nate Hurwitz Field, a field that is specially designed with larger dug outs and a modified playing surface allowing a wheelchair to move freely.
On May 28th we took 10 Whitecaps players to the field to host a clinic, and each one of them got put in their respective positions helping each child accomplish either fielding, batting or pitching. It was truly inspiring seeing the professional baseball players interact with the kids.
However, the best part of the day was seeing each one of the guys become more grateful for their ability to play a sport so freely. It was the biggest reminder of how blessed they are to be able to not worry about the physical and mental demands of the sport like some people do.
Then, on June 11th, the Whitecaps staff got the opportunity to volunteer with the West Michigan Miracle League. Upon arrival you get to pick a buddy to spend the two hours with. My buddy was Johnathan (I may be a little biased, but he was the best). We got to hit with them, run the bases and help them play the field.
Johnathan loved baseball, but he also loved to act like he was a spaceship landing on the ground and would pop a squat whenever he wanted. We were a match made in heaven. He also loved hugs, and loved every person he met. He also showed passion for what he was doing. There was a moment when he couldn’t hit the ball, and he stepped back and took a deep breathe then tried again until he hit the ball off the tee.
He made me realize that life is great in the smallest ways, and that if you have a positive attitude things will always get better. Baseball teaches perseverance, character and dedication. You never realize how much baseball is changing lives until it hits you right in the face and changes your life through little moments.