New Program Helps “Wheelchair Athletes” Compete

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — For years, the parents of a group of wheelchair athletes have been trying to give their kids the same opportunities they saw other kids getting.

Mike Schuh reports their wait is over.

A year ago, no one was happy with Kennedy Krieger’s softball field. They are now.

The new field was dedicated Tuesday.

“And the idea for this field came to a group of us parents four years ago when we were standing on a wheelchair softball field in Minnesota and said, `We’re going to do that in Baltimore,'” said Keith McMinn.

His daughter, Samantha, is catcher for the team.

“It’s amazing to see the field and I was very happy,” said Samantha McMinn.

“It’s great. You don’t have to worry about playing in the parking lot, hitting cars or flipping,” said Jorge Madrana.

Yes, flipping. They’d play so hard, they’d come out of their chairs, scarring their heads, knees and arms.

Other sports can be played here, as well.

The field cost $500,000. The Ripken Foundation and other large donors made it happen.

“It’s not really overstating it to say something like this changes their lives,” said Lainy LeBow-Sachs. “There’s no question about it.”

“She’s much more confident in all areas of her life and her social skills and her teammates,” Keith McMinn said. “It’s just through the roof in the improvements we’ve seen in her.”

The field is named after Dr. “Chick” Silberstein, who used to be the Orioles team doctor and who championed athletics for physically challenged children.

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