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Interact Club plays Buddy Ball

For five years in the running, Interact Club has participated in Buddy Ball, a version of baseball modified for people with special needs. On Oct. 20, the club met at Eastmonte Park for their first volunteer event of the year.

“I decided to do Interact Club because I think it’s important to care for your community,” junior and Interact Club Vice President Sabrina Bonadio said. “Some people want to make a difference and change the world. That begins in your own backyard. By being in a club that helps the community through food drives, volunteering with disabled kids, leadership conferences, and state park cleanups, I think that it’s a little footstep in the right path of making the world a better place.”

Buddy Ball gets its name from the “buddy system” that ensues between students and players; each Interact Club member is paired with a buddy who they help through the game. The game itself is similar to baseball in its dynamics, yet it is played without restricting rules. For example there are no strikes or outs, if the batter cannot hit the ball after a few attempts they simply pull forward a batting tee, everyone has the opportunity to run the bases and make a homerun, and no score is kept. By eliminating competitive rules from Buddy Ball it differentiates it from other sports but creates a more positive and care-free environment.

“Seeing their smiles after having someone hang out with them and their friends really warmed everyone’s hearts and brought us all together,” junior Sara Vratanina said. “It really gave us a chance to bond with each other but also with our buddies and it was such a fun and positive experience.”

Through the years, Interact Club has taken new groups of excited students to participate in this volunteer opportunity. Buddy Ball gives students the chance to help their community and gain volunteer hours for Bright Futures or other similar programs. The special needs kids often return through the years and the students who stick with it can see them grow. Outside of the club, anyone can volunteer with the Buddy Ball program, as it is open every weekend for those who would like to help out.

“I didn’t know what to expect the first time around,”  Interact Club sponsor Kent Kersten said. “I thought that my students would be a little awkward around the kids or unaware of how to help them or how to talk to them, but that has never been the case. It’s always been really an easygoing, fun time. My students always like the kids that they work with and the kids that they work with really respond to my students. The one constant has been that everyone has always enjoyed it. It’s the most positive atmosphere that I’ve ever been to.”

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