Sports program for kids regardless of their challenges in life
Role Model: Leslie Sigrah
Leslie Sigrah, like most mothers, wants the best for her own children. But what sets her apart is that she took on a role that not only benefitted her family, it has impacted the lives of families across the area. Through Bambino Buddy Ball, she helps a team of volunteers provide safe, fun and accessible team sports to all children.
What exactly is Babe Ruth Bambino Ball?
LS: Babe Ruth Bambino Ball is baseball for youth and young adults ages 5-20, which is adapted to the individual players level of play. Each player has a “buddy” from their peer group to help enrich their game experience, as well as keep them safe during play.
What is its history?
This program is under the umbrella of the Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken Baseball Organization. Locally we have been participating in this type of program for six years and I have been directing our specific program for the past five years.
Who does it benefit?
Any person (male or female) ages 5-20+ with a disability that does not allow them to participate in mainstream baseball or softball programs.
How did you get involved?
My son and daughter both have disabilities. When, due to this, it was not an option for them to participate in activities in general, I found a place that was safe, fun, and active and which involved teamwork, social activity, and physical activity. I wanted them to be able to experience the benefits of sports like other kids their ages regardless of their challenges in life.
What prompted you your group to bring it to Spokane?
The person who originated the program was active in a similar program in California and saw a need for it here in Spokane.
Do you have any stories to share? Has one child impacted you in a particular way?
All our kids are amazing! The thing that really hits me about this program and how it impacts the kids involved, is the fact that kids who would not get out of the car to interact with anyone they didn’t know are now fully engaging and involved with other kids and adults. The fact that kids who are confined to wheelchairs are able to participate in a team sport and be successful at it makes me smile! I have too many stories for one article. They all amaze, enlighten and enrich my life more than I can put into words.
What kind of success have you had in Spokane?
The first season we started with the five kids from the previous year and added 15 more, this year, in our sixth season, we have 70 kids in Spokane and 9 in Colville. I know there are many others who could benefit from this program and hope it will continue to grow.
What does it mean to you personally?
This is always the question that is the hardest to answer. It means the kids are happy, making friends and active. What more could I ask for! Many of our parents cannot even take their kids out to dinner—for many reasons. Buddy Ball is a safe place people can come and know that others will truly relate to them in a positive and supportive manner, no matter what.
Where would you like to see Spokane Buddy Ball go?
I would love to see kids all over the city, and the region, that are stuck behind barriers that keep them from engaging, be able to use this as a stepping stone to breaking down walls.
What is your wish list for the future?
One big complex that is safe, fun and active for our kids!
How can the community help?
Right now we just need to find some significant donors in the community willing to help us get our dream off the ground.
How can people get involved?
Volunteerism is how we keep going. Anyone wanting to be a part of the program in any capacity can email me and we can go from there
For more information about Spokane Bambino Buddy Ball or the Spokane American Baseball Association contact Leslie Sigrah at (509) 251-2588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.