SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — When 9-year-old Aiden Ringo settles into the batter’s box, he says he forgets about his weekly doctor’s appointments and therapy.
The three surgeries he had on his feet in September never pop into his mind, he said.
The fact he’s the only kid in his class that gets around in a wheelchair is not important.
On Tuesday nights, Aiden gets to escape, and just be a kid, when he plays baseball for his Miracle League team.
“When you’re up to bat, it just takes you away. It just makes me feel so alive,” said Aiden, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 18 months old.
About a year after the diagnosis, Aiden began feeling the severe effects of having epilepsy.
“That was traumatic because we just had no idea what was happening,” said Tessa Ringo, Aiden’s mother. “I’ve never had to call 911 before, so it’s those experiences that no one can prepare you for.”
Tessa said she quit her job to take care of Aiden full time. She said her son never played sports until last year, when the family found out about the Miracle League of Arizona a nonprofit organization that provides a safe baseball experience for children, teens and adults with disabilities or special health-care needs.
Dan Haren Sr. and his wife became involved in the league when their son, Dan, was traded from the Oakland Athletics to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007.
“We brought the idea to (Diamondbacks President) Derrick Hall, and about two months later, they wrote us a grant for about $380,000 to get the whole thing started,” said Haren, the league’s executive director.
The facility is a $2.2 million, state-of the-art stadium in Scottsdale. The field is made of rubber so that it is wheelchair accessible. There’s a warning track with fences and a scoreboard. The players choose their own walk-up music as an announcer calls out their name.
For most of the games, the league doesn’t keep score. There are no balls or strikes. Each players get as many swings as he or she needs to hit the ball.
“It feels so amazing. You hear all these cheers and it just feels like you’re running with one of the professionals,” Aiden said. “It’s just really fun to go out there and take yourself away. It feels like the real Major League experience.”
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- A preseason guide to avoid holiday weight gain
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee