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Sparkman hosts annual special needs softball league

The Homeruns and Family Fun softball league is in full swing for their sixth year.

Games for all ages of special needs children and their family are held every Tuesday from the beginning of April through the end of the school year at Sparkman School.

This year’s league has 75 players from all over the county split into four teams. Two games are played each Tuesday with two innings each. Innings end after each player has batted and reached home.

League coordinator Cam Harris said the league has grown each year.

“We started with 33 that first year, but we have grown each year, with 75 this season,” Harris said. “Each family only pays $10 to play, so we survive off donations. Many of the families involved support us financially, but we also have some churches and businesses that support us. The Hartselle Kiwanis Club donates every year and Mountain View Baptist, Victory Baptist and New Center Baptist churches have helped us out this year.”

Harris said they have come a long way in their six years, but they are hoping to continue to improve.

“We want to make our bathroom handicapped accessible,” Harris said. “We need to do some work on the fields, and we have been trying to update the dugouts. We recently were able to replace the bleachers with donated wood. We try to work on everything little by little, but we can only do so much as our donations will allow.”

Player mother Patty Southerland said this league means a lot to both the players and the families.

“These games are the World Series to the players,” Southerland said. “My son Mason has been playing for four years now, and he absolutely loves it. I wish the season could be longer because I feel like it really helps him. He loves being able to talk about his games just like his brother gets to talk about his baseball games.”

Southerland said she enjoys it as a parent as well.

“It’s really nice to have something for Mason to participate in without having to be an active participant myself,” Southerland said. “It feels good to have a short break from being a caretaker. I’m able to let the volunteers take over while he enjoys a fun activity in a safe environment that is modified to his skill level. I also love seeing other people encourage him.”

The league welcomes any family with special needs to come participate in the fun.

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