WESTFIELD, NJ -- Put me in coach! Westfield Buddy Ball, a program based on one established by Babe Ruth Baseball for children with special needs, held its opening day with beautiful weather on Saturday, May 4.

There were fly balls, base hits and plenty of smiles to go around at the event.

“My son had such a good time and it was lovely to see the kids and the buddies together,” said Jane Burrows, a parent at the event.

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All told, 26 kids and their families were registered for the opening event at Gumpert Field in Westfield organized by Bob Brancatella and Julie Steinberg.

"It was a wonderful chance for our kids to play together on the field and be part of an inclusive team," said Steinberg.

Westfield Public Schools also helped by spreading the word about the event and the town of Westfield provided access to Gumpert Field.

The Bambino Buddy Ball Division was established by Babe Ruth Baseball as a program for children with special needs. It provides them the opportunity to enjoy and participate in sports, particularly the social structure and fun of playing baseball. Today, more than 30,000 players participate in a Buddy Ball-type league nationwide. The most fundamental goal of Buddy Ball is to give everyone a chance to play.

Organizers thanked the following individuals for providing feedback and input to make the program possible: Nancy Babbitt, Westfield Adaptive PE teacher; Scott Matthews of Intensive Therapeutics; and Trisha Yurochko, Coach of Lightning Wheels of Childrens’ Specialized Hospital.

Uniforms and hats were designed for the league by Rick Chesky of RC Solutions in Scotch Plains.

For additional information, visit http://westfieldbuddyball.blogspot.com/.