'Buddy-Ball' gives athletes with disabilities the opportunity to play baseball

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - For 11 years, the Bambino Buddy-Ball league has allowed kids with disabilities to experience what it is like to play baseball with their peers.

For 11 years, Bambino Buddy-Ball has paired athletes with and without disabilities to enjoy the sport of baseball (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)

"They get to play, they get to experience, they get to have fun, they get to laugh. Their disability, whatever it may be, is invisible for that hour, and I love that," said Lori Hansen, the organizer for Buddy-Ball.

Linsey and Jason Weaver signed their daughter Rilynn up for Buddy-Ball about five years ago. Since joining Buddy-Ball, the Weavers have seen Rilynn grow socially, and she is always excited when Buddy-Ball season is coming up.

"We're blessed for it. Every single year she looks forward to it and can't wait for 'her' buddy ball to start," Linsey Weaver said.

"Just being able to get out on the field and be like everyone else, it's a perfect opportunity for any child that has a disability, or are unable to have a chance to play a sport," Jason Weaver said.

Chance Skaggs has been participating in Buddy-Ball for eight years. When asked why he enjoys playing, Skaggs said, "Just hanging out with a bunch of my friends." Skaggs' favorite part of baseball is hitting, because he enjoys going around the bases.

Isabela Winter has been involved with Buddy-Ball for seven years. She enjoys playing first and second base, and playing with a buddy. "You can hit far with a buddy. They hang out, and it's more fun," Winter said.

Phalary Austin plays for the North Platte Belles softball team, which was the organization playing with Buddy-Ball on Wednesday. Austin appreciates the opportunity to participate in Buddy-Ball.

"It's a great experience, because I get to meet new people, and I get to learn more about different people," Austin said.

Linsey Weaver is thankful for Buddy-Ball giving Rilynn a place to play sports, when she previously was unable.

"Many times she would say, 'why can't I play soccer?' and at that time I wasn't aware of anything until I found out about Buddy Ball. It was finally an opportunity where she could be included, be involved, she can play," Linsey Weaver said.

Playing baseball with friends makes it hard to go home unhappy.

"I don't think anybody leaves here without a smile on their face," Linsey Weaver said.

Search 'North Platte Bambino Buddy Ball' to find out how to sign you organization up to host Buddy-Ball.