The Gary SouthShore RailCats always look to make every night at the U.S. Steel Yard special, but they went an extra mile on Saturday with their Autism Sensory Game presented by AccessAbilities.
The RailCats partnered with AccessAbilities and the nonprofit INFEAT this season to bring attention to autism and other developmental disabilities. Players donned custom puzzle piece jerseys, signed autographs pre-game, and the team invited AccessAbilities clients onto the field to sing the national anthem and a number of musical performances throughout the evening.
“This is huge, we’re Northwest Indiana’s team so we want to make sure everyone has the ability to enjoy the RailCats,” said David Kerr, RailCats Director of Marketing & Promotions. “We want them to be able to come out and have a fun, full night at the ballpark.”
The RailCats players are no stranger to themed evenings and events, last year they took the field in “The Office” themed uniforms every Wednesday. Wearing their AccessAbilities puzzle piece jerseys however, was truly special even to longtime manager Greg Tagert.
“Any time we can do something that’s meaningful to the community and for a cause like this is certainly one of the things that we’re all about,” Tagert said. “I’m very proud that we’ve been so supportive to causes like this over the years. Anything we can do to bring joy and help a cause is just outstanding.”
For the team from AccessAbilities and INFEAT, the ballgame was a chance to showcase the fruits of tireless practice. Of course, photos on the field with Rusty the RailCat were an added bonus.
“All of these people deserve to be a part of the community as well,” said Andrea Villarreal, Vice President of the Board of Directors for INFEAT and Director of Behavior Services at AccessAbilities. “Sometimes, because of life’s circumstances, they’re not able to get out into the community. With agencies like AccessAbilities assistance, they’re able to get out here and enjoy the fun things that they deserve.”
The two organizations are longtime partners with the RailCats, and many of the individuals who sang their hearts out have formed close relationships with people in the RailCats organization.
“The RailCats make such an effort to support their fans, and many of those fans happen to have special needs,” said Karen Mummery, President of INFEAT and mother of a daughter with autism. “It means a lot to these kids and adults, but it means the same amount to their families to be so welcomed and embraced. The RailCats have always been happy to partner with us and ask what we need.”
To learn more about the Gary SouthShore RailCats, visit railcatsbaseball.com.