“Every child deserves the chance to play baseball,” is The Miracle League’s mantra and a belief TSS Photography franchise owner Ashley Barlowe stands behind. But, she’s not the only one involved with TSS who feels this way, as TSS Photography is a corporate sponsor of the league.
As a long-time sports photography business owner, Ashley takes photos of the sports teams at her area YMCA located north of Charlottesville, North Carolina. As she learned more about The Miracle League at the YMCA, she began volunteering to take their photos as well.
What is The Miracle League?
The Miracle League creates a way for children with disabilities to experience the joy of playing America’s favorite pastime. No mental or physical condition will keep the dedicated volunteers from helping a child play. It makes no difference whether the players are diagnosed with autism, living in a wheelchair, or have a sight impairment, each child is paired with a physically-able peer called a “buddy” who helps them around the bases.
“Different groups–local baseball teams, boy scouts, church youth groups, etc.–within the community come volunteer on Saturdays to be a buddy,” Ashley said. “They help players at bat and in the dugout. The community is able to volunteer their time and be a part of the action.”
One of the main barriers to playing baseball for children with disabilities is the grass field–wheelchairs and other assistive devices don’t move well through the grass. The Miracle League has a state-of-the-art, custom-designed, cushioned, rubberized turf field. This allows wheelchairs and other assistive devices to move freely and helps prevent injuries.
How is TSS Photography Involved?
Twice each year, Ashley and her staff take a trip to The Miracle League fields to get photos of each of the players and their teams. TSS Photography is a proud sponsor and donates a photo package to each player to help them create lasting memories. The players get a Sports Mate, which includes an individual photo and a team photo. Parents and friends are welcome to buy additional photos, but they don’t have to.
“I make sure I take a photo of every player,” Ashley said. “But, it’s not always easy. With the players always on the move, I might have to run on the field with them. My entire staff always wants to work The Miracle League shoots. It is a great feeling and the experience always fills the volunteer’s cup, so to speak.”
There is a recreation league, what most people would call their local little league, located about 20 miles from the YMCA where The Miracle League teams play. Ashley and other volunteers have helped connect the players from the two leagues to providing The Miracle League participants with more opportunity to activities in which they can participate.
“The players from The Miracle League are getting to connect in ways they wouldn’t have the opportunity to otherwise,” Ashley said. “They move into playing basketball, creating art, or even visiting Santa Claus. Other outreach programs are inspired by The Miracle League here in North Carolina.”
How Can You Help?
People of all beliefs agree with Pope Francis when he says, “a community that excludes even one member is no community at all.”
The Miracle League creates strong communities, which support everyone within their reach.
If you’re interested in learning more or discovering if there is a branch of The Miracle League near you, it’s easy to find out! You can also make a donation or learn more about the donation process with the foundation that supports The Miracle League.
TSS Photography franchise owners across the nation spend time and invest in their communities. To learn more about how franchise owners volunteer in their community read, “Support, Service, and Sweat: TSS Photography Gives Back.”