Traverse City Dream Team Up To Bat, Unites Youth with Disabiliti - Northern Michigan's News Leader

Traverse City Dream Team Up To Bat, Unites Youth with Disabilities For Third Year

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"It's just an amazing win-win for so many people."

Dozens of players up to bat, all supporting fellow athletes tackling similar challenges, lined up in their dugouts Saturday.

The Traverse City Dream Team's dream is a big one: unite all kids, teens and adults with disabilities on the diamond.

The fields at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center were filled with smiling faces.

9&10’s Cody Boyer joined the dream team in the outfield to show us their true mission.

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“The goal is to give players of all abilities to play baseball but, more than that, the goal is to bring player partners, their peers from their schools and community, to join them on the field,” says Dayna Ryan, the Dream Team’s volunteer coordinator. “Rain or shine!"

It might have been a little damp on the diamonds but a little rain can't stop the dream team.

“This is probably one of the top three things that I have ever done because of what you are seeing,” Ryan says. “The energy, the enthusiasm, and the difference that it makes. I mean, I'm in the schools and I see the players and I see the player partners and they are high-fiving each other, really developing a relationship."

Three years after it started, the Dream Team has grown.

Four teams, 65 players, dozens of smiles, just like Dre's.

When asked if he hit the ball, Dre Winkelmann, a pitcher on the purple team, says he did.

“I made it all the way back home and I’m safe,” Winkelmann says.

Kris Ruckle is a volunteer on a parent that sees both angles.

She has a daughter who is a player, and her son is a player’s partner.

“As a mother, it's my favorite part to watch them yell their child's name as they hit the ball, run down first base and see the smile on their face and the excitement that we're making this, the dream team, it gives them that opportunity to do that for them,” Ruckle says. “That's what touches my heart."

“Our dream, our big dream, is to develop that kind of field so that it can be a multi-use kind of field for people of all abilities, all different sports because, honestly, our community needs this,” Ryan says.

“It makes everyone feel good especially when they are smiling because it's just fun,” says Kolin Enders, Dre’s partner.

A big goal made possible by everyone, with more at-bats already being planned for the future.

“That’s what makes me get up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning,” Ruckle says. “It's a wonderful, amazing place to be."

For more information about Traverse City’s Dream Team, check out their website.