For a group of Tewksbury youngsters, every baseball fantasy, dream, and aspiration came true at Fenway Park on Wednesday, July 18.
The Tewksbury Challenger baseball team, a squad for players with mental and physical disabilities, had a Boston baseball experience that they’ll surely never forget.
Along with their families and volunteer buddies, the team sat in the Red Sox dugout and took cuts in the batting cages. They touched the Green Monster and stepped up to the plate. They had batting practice on the historic field with Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan.
To top it off they experienced a comprehensive, guided tour of America’s most beloved ballpark during the year of its 100th anniversary.
Amidst the excitement, the Challenger Team was grieving. The funeral of Ed Sullivan, a local youth sports leader who gave his heart and soul to the Challenger Team, was held on the morning of the festivities.
“He would have wanted us to go [to Fenway],” said Karen Torres, an organizer for the Challenger Team.
The event was sponsored by CVS Caremark in an effort to give back to a well deserving community.
“One of our charitable foundations is focused around the idea that ‘All Kids Can,’” said Bob Quint, regional manager of CVS Caremark.
“Every year around April we put out opportunities for these Challenger Buddy programs and almost 30 different teams apply for 10 spots,” said Quint who was on hand to enjoy some of the events.
“It’s just our way to give back to the community and the kids,” said Quint. “Tewksbury is a very deserving team,” he continued.
Among the privileged attendees was overjoyed 16 year-old Pamella Proctor, adopted sister of Jacob Trudeau, a member of the Challenger Team.
“It’s so beautiful for the people who organized this to give the Challenger Team and people with disabilities a chance to do what other people can do,” said Proctor while standing on the warning track by the Red Sox dugout.
“My brother is just like any other teenage boy,” she continued. Jacob had just finished taking some swings on the Fenway diamond.
She was very appreciative of the gesture put forth by CVS and the Red Sox. “It’s awesome to know that people are trying to give these kids chances,” she said. “They’re coming out of their comfort zone to help, something that a lot of people can’t even do,” she said.
Another Challenger Team member in the spotlight was Liam Knyff who had some memorable swings both in the batting cage and out on the field.
Liam’s parents Adrian and Erin will be holding a fundraiser on September 28 to support “LiamNation,” a charitable organization that has donated to numerous groups including the Tewksbury Challenger Team.
“We raise money to give it back to anyone with disabilities,” said Erin Knyff. Thanks to a baseball autographed by Magadan, the Knyffs will have one more item to raffle off during the fundraiser.
After a guided tour of the captivating ballpark, Mother Nature and the Red Sox assured the Tewksbury kids that this day of baseball dreams would be truly perfect.
Despite tornado warnings and severe thunderstorms, the Red Sox battled the White Sox during an eerily perfect window of calm weather.
Boston’s Cody Ross provided a pair of 3-run homers over the Green Monster; Adrian Gonzalez added a solo shot. Their heroics plus a strong outing from starting pitcher Felix Doubront ensured a 10-1 win and confirmation that this day of baseball was as inspiring, ideal, and perhaps healing as America’s pastime can possibly be.