MEQUON -- Although it’s winter and there’s plenty of snow around, the baseball season is fast approaching. For Concordia University, they decided to start up their season with a unique clinic -- and welcomed kids from Milwaukee’s GiGi’s Playhouse.
“We thought it would be an awesome idea if we could get GiGi's individuals to come and for a fun day of baseball and a fun day of baseball activities,” said Matt Olig, Concordia baseball team captain.
GiGi’s works with people with down syndrome.
“This is fabulous. There's so much engagement and smiles and cheering -- as you can hear -- it's a great opportunity for our kids of all ages to help play with the baseball team,” said Sara Van Deurzen, GiGi’s Playhouse site coordinator.
The baseball team first got the idea after participating in GiGi’s annual Dance-A-Thon at Concordia.
“The baseball team signed on to really help us raise awareness and raise funds for our down syndrome achievement center and try to get more awareness and more fun for our kids,” said Van Deurzen.
Matt Olig is one of the captains and took on organizing the clinic.
“As student athletes we have quite the platform to perform on the field but I think it's also important that we contribute off the field," Olig said. "It's cool to see guys in different aspects in their lives, not just athletics, succeed and help others and I think that's what today is all about, everybody helping out and hopefully having some fun."
While the immediate goal is learning the sport, it’s also about creating a memorable experience.
“Things like this don't happen very often for our kids, so just having that connection and somebody older to look up to is so important that we can all play together and be together as a team,” said Van Deurzen.
"I hope that they find that they love baseball, it's a great sport and it's provided a lot of us athletes with a cool outlet to do what we love and I also think it's cool just to bond with other people and to see the passion that we have for the things we do. I hope the GiGi's kids can take out some of the passion and love that we have for the game and apply it however they can in their own lives,” Olig said.
This was the first year of the clinic but both sides hope they started a tradition. As for the Dance-A-Thon that’s coming up Saturday, March 2 at Concordia. The public is welcome. For more information, CLICK HERE.