Organized sports might be a normal part of growing up for most children in Columbia County, but until recently, it wasn't possible for children with certain special needs.
Evans parents Trever Anderson and Michelle Schulte said they wanted their son Aiden Anderson, 4, who has autism, and other children with mental and physical disabilities to be able to participate in non-aggressive sports.
For nine weeks this past summer and fall, Anderson, Schulte, and a group of volunteers and parents organized two T-ball teams - the Augusta Sluggers for ages 3 to 8, and the Augusta Terrors for ages 9 to 16 - for children in the Augusta area.
"They only play a couple innings," Anderson said. "It's more of a scrimmage for the kids to go out and have some fun."
The teams have grown to include about 20 children with physical, mental and social limitations, Anderson said.
The county provided the use of fields and equipment at Riverside Park, and Anderson and Schulte arranged jerseys and trophies for each of the children.
Three Columbia County Little League coaches - Jimmy Dees, Jimmy Gilliland and Robert McCullough - lent their assistance for the nine-week season, Anderson said.
"All three are normal little-league volunteer coaches in Columbia County," Anderson said. "None of them had ever worked with special-needs kids before. All did an awesome job and made the season a great success."
Schulte said parents have asked her, "'Why hasn't there been something like this before?"
"This has been like a support group for parents," Anderson said.
Anderson and Schulte are now working to expand to a four-season sports program.
"We are trying to organize a bowling league, but we haven't been able to get a commitment for low-cost fees from any alley yet," Schulte said.
The parents do not receive county funding and are seeking sponsors in the community.
This past season, CommuniGraphics in North Augusta provided jerseys at reduced cost, but Anderson said organizers would appreciate assistance in providing refreshments for the children.
The second season of T-ball is scheduled to begin in April. The cost to cover jerseys and trophies is $15 per child.
For more information, contact Anderson and Schulte via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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