By Yvonne Johnson, APG NewsAugust 22, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Picking up from where they left off last year, Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) members teamed up with the League of Dreams to provide local children with disabilities the chance to play baseball.
Led by Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. James Ervin and BOSS president Spc. Eric Jimenez, the Soldiers met League of Dreams founder Frank Kolarek at Cal Senior's Yard inside the Ripken Experience Complex during the Cal Ripken World Series in Aberdeen Aug. 17.
More than 30 players and parent/guardian volunteers were in attendance for the combined practice and game which preceded the day's World Series match ups.
Kolarek thanked Ervin and Jimenez for the Garrison's support of the program.
"Since we came to Aberdeen you and your Soldiers have been steadfast supporters of what we're trying to do for Maryland kids," he said. "We remain grateful to the APG Garrison for supporting and working with us to give these kids special moments that they'll cherish forever."
The Soldiers tossed rubber balls as well as words of encouragement at the players as they practiced their catching and throwing skills. During the game, the Soldiers lined up near the on-deck circle where they high-5'd each player entering and leaving the game.
Each player got a chance to bat and run the bases assisted by volunteers as well as players from the CRWS Southeast region team.
Soldiers, parents and volunteers agreed it was a fun day for all.
Jackie and Tom Rivers, the founders of Rivers of Hope of Anne Arundel County said their daughter Kourtney, 11, is playing her second year with the League of Dreams.
"This is fun for her but it's also important because it gives her a powerful sense of accomplishment," said Tom Rivers. "We plan to continue this and other programs that build self esteem."
Daniel Quinn and his wife Linda of Edgewood said their 15-year-old son Daniel loves playing baseball and other sports.
"He's in his third year with the League of Dreams but he also runs with the Special Olympics of Maryland," Daniel Quinn said. "He's good with sports and the good thing about the League is that it gives him the opportunity to learn how to do other things."
Vaughn Sholar, a coach with the Southeast region team said his players got involved to support two League of Dreams players who were bat boys for his team.
"They weren't just bat boys, they were a part of our team and now they're a part of our hearts," Sholar said. "Baseball is the purest game there could ever be and one that every kid strives for. It was our pleasure to help these kids get there."
The 14 BOSS volunteers helped the group achieve its community outreach goals, said Jimenez.
"This is our biggest event of the year not involving the military," he said. "We enjoy it and you can see by the smiles on their faces that they truly appreciate it. We just try to make the event better with our presence."
BOSS, Jimenez noted, is focused on increasing its presence in the community. One upcoming event is the "So You Think You've Got Talent" talent show set for Sept. 26 at the APG North (Aberdeen) recreation center. Open to active duty military as well as civilians age 16 and older, this year's competition includes a military category prize as well as a "Most Talented Unit" streamer.
"BOSS is encouraging all Soldiers to come out and show their talents," Jimenez said. For more information, visit the APG Morale, Welfare and Recreation website at www.apgmwr.com.