GATESVILLE, Texas — Four mothers in Gatesville are working together to create an inclusive baseball team for their children with special needs.
Kara Dotson was one of the founders. Her son Layne is seven years old and diagnosed with L1 Syndrome, Hydrocephalus and Hirschsprung's Disease.
He's been playing tee ball for the last two years and has been loving it. As he gets older and ages out of tee-ball, his mom has concerns about him being on the team.
"Next year he has to go to coach pitch because of his age group," she said. "I don't think we're going to be able to go to coach pitch because if a ball comes to his face, I don't think he's going to be able to catch it."
Dotson partnered with Danielle Villarreal, Ashlee Conklin, and Sarah Kruger to create the team for children of all ages and abilities. They plan to have one volunteer or parent for each child playing.
"You can say the ball is going to the right, do you want to get it? If she says no, no means no," she explained. "The volunteer will do what the child says. The child will say how they want to play the game and that's how we'll play it."
The moms say giving children a place to play with others who may have similar disabilities can help them feel more included and confident.
"He has the opportunity to just be normal," Villarreal said of her son. "It matters. What we're doing here, what we have the opportunity to do not just for our kids but for kids in a rural community, it matters."
It also shields parents from the all too often judgment they can see when out with their children.
"We all have experienced it in some way and we understand," Conklin said. "So that's what it is. Giving our kids a place to go that's a judgment-free zone and we can still have fun."
The women's four children will be involved, but they also hope to recruit many more athletes from all across Central Texas.
"We have all become close because we understand what the others are going through," Kruger said. "This way other moms and dads can come and feel the same support we do. Even though this is for our children, it helps for us to have that support as well."
For more information on how to sign up, you can visit their Facebook page.