Nicholas Holman, an 8-year-old from West Babylon, has been using a wheelchair for three years; a genetic mutation limits his mobility. But with a little help from his 13-year-old sister, Samantha, he showed families from across Long Island that he is a talented baseball player at Eisenhower Park last Saturday.
Enveloped in his sister’s guiding arms, Nicholas swung a bat at a ball on a tee near home plate at the East Meadow park’s newest ball field. He made contact, dropped the bat and began waving his hands as his sister pushed him toward first base.
The Holmans had company on the field. Dozens of volunteers and players of all ages, communities and abilities stood along each baseline, cheering and chanting Nicholas’s name before he rounded third and scored.
Dozens of other youngsters and teens with special needs hit home runs last weekend, as every hit during these unique weekly games is celebrated. The event was sponsored by a nonprofit organization whose members advocated for the opening of the handicapped-accessible athletic field in Nassau’s largest park last month: the League of YES, or You Experience Success.
A chance to grow
Formerly known as the Miracle League of Long Island, the League of YES has been committed to giving children with special needs the opportunity to play baseball since 2010. Kristine Fitzpatrick, a sales representative for New York State Industries for the Disabled, founded the organization after volunteering with the Miracle League of Westchester.
Both groups now host two-hour, noncompetitive games in their region that allow every player to bat, run the bases and score each inning. When they’re not behind the tee, participants may play defense or do whatever they like in the field — start a game of duck-duck-goose, have a dance party or just run around. At all times, players are accompanied by volunteers that the League of YES calls buddies, who are there to socialize with, help and encourage the athletes.