EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Kicking back and enjoying a baseball game is America’s pastime. But getting into the action — is the dream. Thanks to the Beautiful Lives Project, nearly 70 people got to fulfil it at Bosse Field. Bryce Weiler, who is blind, co-founded the Beautiful Lives Project to give people with disabilities the opportunities to experience sports and other programs throughout the country. He coordinated the Field of Dreams event where adults from Jacob’s Village and children from the Highland Challenger League got the chance to show their skills alongside Otters players and coaches.
“So often, people with disabilities are not given opportunities to be able to participate in programs or in events such as this,” said Weiler.
Jamie Espenlaub, the executive director at Jacob’s Village said the residents “love it. This is something they always look forward to. The fact that they’re able to participate with the Otters players means a lot to them.”
Weiler says the events don’t just help people hone their baseball skills, but that it goes much deeper. He said “they lead into making new friendships. They also lead into helping people with disabilities hopefully find employment and to be able to lead a successful and productive life.”
Otters pitcher and former USI player Austin Gossmann said he always looks forward to events like these.
“It’s really rewarding honestly,” said Gossman. “So much of our days are consumed with just waking up, playing a game and we often take it for granted. And it’s really nice to be able to come back out here, give back to the community that allows us to be able to play a kids’ game. We’re all willing to help out and we’re happy to be here for them. For anybody.”
The residents from Jacob’s Village will be back on the diamond at Bosse Field on June 30 for their annual benefit night. In the past 15 years that the Otters have partnered with the organization, they have helped raise over $210,000 to help find affordable and accessible housing for Jacob’s Village residents.