Sailfish Softball Lends a Hand with Neighborhood Autism Athletics Program
February 8, 2012
Written By: Michael Brown, Assistant A.D. for Athletic Communications
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.- The history and living legacy of Palm Beach Atlantic University is often based with its founders love of Christ and their desire to make their communities better. With each PBA student participating in community service projects both locally and abroad, the University continues to spread the love of Christ through its service. The Sailfish softball team has accomplished this over the past few months by many of its players and coaches volunteering with the St. Mark’s Neighborhood Autism Athletics Program (S.N.A.A.P.).
Beginning in October, many of the team’s players would volunteer a few hours each Sunday as they would go to St. Mark’s Neighborhood. During this time, the players would assist by being “shadows” for children with Autism, a development disorder that affects brain functioning in children.
“This was an amazing experience for us as coaches and the girls on the team. It was definitely challenging but we were all blessed to have had this opportunity,” said head softball coach Kimmy Bloemers.
Bloemers was initially drawn to the cause from her experience with her nephew, C.J. who is a child of autism and who also attends the Renaissance Learning Center.
“We had the opportunity to play kickball, soccer, basketball, and other fun activities with the children to get them engaged,” continued Bloemers. “We just loved on them as much as possible and our girls loved it.”
With the ability to impact the children in a fun environment, the student-athletes themselves found the experience to be one of great impact on their own lives.
“It was very rewarding to see how we can make a small difference in the lives of these kids and their parents simply through sports and it was so touching to see how grateful they all were to us all for helping,” said sophomore Brianna Parker.
“Seeing the progress these children made was an amazing experience and there wasn’t a day with them that didn’t bring a smile to my face,” said sophomore Camille Benito.
Although the season is underway for the PBA softball team, many of the Sailfish players and coaches intend on continuing their relationship with the S.N.A.A.P. program as the start date for the next session is Sunday, February 26th from 11:30 am to 2 pm. The program takes place at St. Mark’s Gymnasium and Sports Field.