Beautiful Lives Project Helps Disabled Play Ball

By at August 3, 2017 | 2:10 pm | Print

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Bryce Weiler doesn’t take “no” for an answer. He also doesn’t take “you can’t.” Now he’s sharing that determination with others, and having a lot of fun in the process.

Weiler is blind, and a baseball fan. One boring night at two in the morning he had the idea of making professional baseball fields more accessible to disabled people and he emailed every major league team with his inspiration

The Baltimore Orioles organization was the only positive responder. Working with the Orioles he began the “Beautiful Lives Project.” Now he has brought the program to New Britain.

Together with his longtime friend, Diane McFeaters, and the Community Relations Manager for the Bees, Nicole Springer, they have addressed accessibility issues. But they have done much more than that. They have made it possible for disabled people to actually get out and play ball on the field itself before regular Bees games.

Some participants are blind like Weiler. Some are deaf. Some are in wheelchairs or have Autism – it doesn’t matter. Two groups of 20 people play for a half hour each, often against New Britain Bees players or their opposing team. They have developed ways to work with impairments to where it is a real contest and everyone has fun.

According to Weiler, “The project is a nonprofit that will enhance the lives of disabled individuals by giving them opportunities to experience sports and to overcome obstacles in their life using sports as a vehicle to accomplish this. Furthermore, disabled individuals will have the opportunity to attend New Britain Bees games while also being able to participate in on-the-field activities before certain games.”

Weiler continued, “Giving disabled individuals access to playing on the field is something that can really change their life. I was fortunate to sit on the basketball bench for four seasons at the University of Evansville, and it gave me the opportunity to be around sports and to do things that I didn’t think I was going to be able to do in life, since I cannot see. I can give that opportunity to all the disabled individuals who would care to come to the field at New Britain Bees games, opportunities to hit on the field, throw some balls, play catch and round the bases. There are so many moments in life when these individuals won’t be given these chances, or someone is scared to give them the chance to do these things.”

“He has a vision, he has a dream and he wants to accomplish it… and it’s a beautiful thing. The last time we had our Bees players, the Barnstormers and the Arc of Southington on the field,” said Nicole Springer. “I’m a very emotional person sometimes, and this was overwhelming in a positive way. To see all the smiles on people’s faces was just a touching experience.”

McFeaters first met Weiler via a mutual friend during her freshman year at college in Indiana. She joined Weiler again in starting up the project in New Britain and commented how she admires his drive and determination to accomplish goals.

“I think the people of New Britain should know that a disability or anything that is hindering you in life doesn’t have to be an obstacle,” said McFeaters. “There’s ways around things and ways to overcome challenges. The project shows you ways to overcome any challenges.”

Springer of the Bees staff shared that she sees it from many different angles. “But once you step out on that field, we’re all united. It’s not that I am over here and you are there. It’s ‘How can I help you help me right now,’ and, no pun intended, it was beautiful. People who were scared of many things in life, afraid to get in a pool, afraid to sign up for a class… you are free to do anything. You just need the opportunity, and the opportunity is here.”

“It a way for disabled people to have fun in their day and to forget any doubt that they can do things. They can do things and it gives them a way to be out on the field and just play,” summed up Weiler. “I wish everyone would come take advantage of it. It’s awesome.”

Dates for the experience are August 7, 9, 15, 17 and September 5 and 7. Interested individuals can call Bryce Weiler at 812-899-5673 or send an email to NSpringer@NBBees.com.

 

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