Baseball player with Down syndrome celebrates ‘best home run ever’
Every hit is a home run in one baseball league on Long Island, New York, and the players are celebrating in big ways — especially Billy, who rounded out his trot around the bases with some impressive dance moves.
Billy, who has Down syndrome, plays in the League of YES, a baseball club for people of all ages with special needs. Billy has gone viral since busting a move around the diamond on April 28, when he slugged an opening day home run. The video has been shared more than 48,000 times.
“We hope that it shows that you can be friends with a child with special needs and to understand that they are just kids, too,” said Kristine Fitzpatrick, who started the program on Long Island in 2010. “We want to break that barrier of acceptance.”
Billy, a new player in the program, first boogied to home plate during the first inning, so Fitzpatrick made sure to have her camera ready during the second. With help from his “buddies,” the program’s volunteers, Billy wowed the crowd and scored another run.
Fitzpatrick shares videos of her players every Saturday during the season, and she estimates she’s posted more than 500 videos onto the league’s social channels. The league started with just 30 players and 30 volunteers in 2010, and with “a ton of persistence and passion,” the program has since grown to more than 300 players and more than 1,400 volunteers, Fitzpatrick said.
“We also want to show the world that our special-needs community needs to have play in their lives,” Fitzpatrick said. “I can tell you story after story of children’s experience of their joy to play on a team and also the confidence they have been building on and off the field.”