Dewitt, NY – Christian Brothers Academy Peer Ministers in Social Justice presented this year’s Lenten Drive to students and faculty prior to an Ash Wednesday prayer service on March 5.
This year’s annual Lenten Drive will support the Syracuse Challenger Baseball program. This program, started eight years ago, is the largest single District Little League organization in the nation, providing opportunities for children with special needs to play baseball. The league has 12 teams and involves over 220 children, with plans for expansion.
The monies raised by CBA students will help the Challengers build their “Field of Dreams” complex in Carrier Park in Dewitt. The complex will be fully handicapped accessible and open to children of all abilities to play not only baseball, but also lacrosse, football, soccer and softball.
To build awareness to what these children have to endure every day, four students simulated a disability for one day and shared their experiences.
Senior Alex Drescher was in a wheel chair. He said that by the end of the day, his “legs were screaming.”
“It was definitely an experience,” Drescher shared. “It was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. I learned that you can’t take anything for granted.”
Senior Bella Corieri, who wore earplugs to mimic an individual with impaired hearing, experienced frustration throughout the day.
“I felt lost,” Corieri shared. “I had no awareness of my surroundings. It was scary at times. You need to be thankful for what you have. It was an eye-opening experience.”
Junior Gabby Damico spent the entire day without the use of her thumbs.
“I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal because it was just my thumbs and they are small,” Damico said. “You take for granted the little things, like opening a water bottle. It was very difficult.”
Junior Tom Benz didn’t have use of his right arm.
“It affected me in more ways than I thought it would,” Benz remarked. “It took more focus and energy. People looked at me differently. I was the kid with one arm.”
Additional CBA students shared what they thought their lives would be if they had a handicap that affected their extracurricular activities.
“Music is magic in my life,” revealed senior vocalist Sam Lim. “Without it, I would be lost. If I couldn’t sing, I would be missing out on so much.”
Added senior Erica Zimmerman,“I spend so much of my time dancing, I don’t know how I would live without it if I had a disability.”
Senior Alessandra Carno then introduced Parker Wall, a member of the Syracuse Challenger Baseball program. Carno befriended the seven year old at the Strike ‘N Spare Bowling Alley.
“Each week I would see Parker bowling and realized there were endless possibilities for anyone with a disability,” Carno said. “Parker is my best friend and my role model.”
Senior baseball players Tim Pierret and Mike Trasolini then presented Parker with a CBA baseball cap.
Sophomore Brendan Carman shared his personal experiences with the Syracuse Challenger Baseball program. His brother has multiple handicaps.
“I have so many fond memories of playing baseball with my brother,” Carman said. “They (Syracuse Challengers baseball) are doing amazing things.”
Dom Cambareri, Program Director for Syracuse Challengers Baseball and Founder of the Syracuse Challenger Field of Dreams project, spoke passionately to the assembly and showed a video of what the complex with multiple fields would look like. The project will ultimately cost $10 million. So far, $2.2 million has been raised. Phase I of the project will commence in the spring.
“Our kids are able to hit, run and score in our Syracuse Challengers Baseball League,” Cambareri, who has a son with special needs, said. “They experience joy, dignity and independence. We are the largest Challenger Baseball League in this country, but we have no fields. All things are possible,” he added.
A goal has been set for the 25 homerooms at CBA to each donate $250. The money will be collected on April 14.
“Our students are very excited about this project and are hopeful that all of our CBA community can give us support,” said Marijane Finlay, Campus Ministry Service Coordinator.
A prayer service and the distribution of ashes followed the Lenten Drive presentation.
Photos: TOP – Christian Brothers Academy students simulated disabilities for a day to help build awareness of people with special needs. Pictured (l-r): Tom Benz had use of one arm, Alex Drescher was confined to a wheelchair and Gabby Damico didn’t have use of her thumbs. Missing from the photo was Bella Corieri was hearing impaired.
BOTTOM – This year’s annual CBA Lenten Drive will help raise monies for the Syracuse Challenger’s Baseball Field of Dreams Project. Pictured are Parker Wall, a member of the Syracuse Challenger’s Baseball program and senior Alessandra Carno.
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