HARTSELLE, Ala. (WHNT) - There is a group of people in Morgan County that really looks forward to the months of April and May each year. It's softball season for special needs individuals. Players, ages five and up, get their gloves out and spirits lifted. WHNT NEWS 19 pays it forward to the woman who makes it happen.
The red dirt, white lines, and green grass are all prepped and ready for action at the field at Sparkman School in Morgan County. However, it's more than a place to play softball. It's where dreams are realized, happiness overflows and everyone is included.
On this day, a doubleheader on the diamond. Whether you move on wheels or heels, everyone that signs up plays. The cheers fly as far and as high as the best batter's ball! Among the robust crowd of supporters is Donna Smith.
"Oh, we come to every game," says Smith.
Smith's nephew plays on one of the teams.
"I'm glad they do this for Jeffrey and I'm glad they do this for everybody in the community also," says Smith.
There's one woman to thank for that - Cam Harris.
"Cam is a very special lady," says Smith. "She's super sweet."
Harris' philosophy is simple.
"This is our rule - if the wheelchairs can't roll, we don't play ball," explains Harris, coordinator of the special needs softball league. "Because everybody plays or nobody plays."
Motivated by her son, Hunter, she's organized the special needs softball games for the last several years. They're up to 65 players and four teams. Harris tweaked the rules a little.
"Everyone gets a chance to hit," describes Harris.
Outs count, but you get to stay on base.
"We want everyone to get that cheer when they cross home plate," says Harris. "Everybody cheers for everybody."
All Harris asks of the families that participate is $10. That includes a t-shirt, post-game snacks, a trophy and hot dog party at the end of the season. Harris didn't ask for $319, but many agree, she definitely deserves it! Truth be told, the smiles, hugs, and the kids' growing anticipation during the off-season is reward enough.
"We like to say we do this for the kids, but anybody that ever comes and sees a ball game realizes that it does our heart so good to be here," says Harris. "We're the ones that are blessed."
As you can imagine, this after school activity is very popular! The players come from all over Morgan County. Johnson says they try to play 10 games a season.