NEW YORK -- The Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) received a well-deserved honor at Gotham Hall on Thursday night. At its 40th-anniversary gala and auction, the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) recognized PBATS for its work during the PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime of Achievement for Youth) campaign.In 2017, the
NEW YORK -- The Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) received a well-deserved honor at Gotham Hall on Thursday night. At its 40th-anniversary gala and auction, the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) recognized PBATS for its work during the PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime of Achievement for Youth) campaign.
In 2017, the Trainers Society's PLAY campaign -- in partnership with NDSS and the Ruderman Family Foundation -- became fully inclusive to include children with disabilities without restriction.
"PLAY really allows us -- from a National Down Syndrome society perspective -- to essentially level the playing field," said Sara Hart Weir, who is president and CEO of NDSS. "Its inclusive program is geared toward promoting a lifestyle of healthy living across our nation's youth with Major League Baseball. It's a special campaign that we feel honored to be a part of."
PBATS has demonstrated that people with disabilities can make significant contributions in the United States, if given the opportunity. In the past two years, NDSS has had the opportunity to participate in 22 PLAY events across the country, with more than 150 participants ranging from 8 to 18 years old.
"There's no segregation. There's nothing different, and they do everything that every other child does. We've been doing it for two years," said Neil Romano, chairman of the National Council on disability. "People told PBATS, 'Don't do it. It's not going to be good. The kids are not going to compete well in the baseball world. You know what? The kids are great. They are the best. They are so enthusiastic. They are so excited to be there -- running bases and hitting balls."
Steve Donohue, a member of the PBATS and the head athletic trainer for the Yankees, is proud of the work PBATS has done with NDSS. It's more than just seeing the kids play baseball. Donohue wants to see the kids stay healthy.
"We want to make sure they feel like they are part of everything, participate in events," Donohue said. "… What we try to do is, we try to set up a little circuit on the field with our strength coaches and other athletics trainers [in attendance]. We talk about health and nutrition. We set up little stations where they can do different exercises. It's really nice to see the kids get out there and enjoy being on the field and in the stadiums."
Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.