Twenty-four residents from Marklund Hyde Center hit the baseball diamond. Each resident had a volunteer teammate as they hit fly balls and pitched from the mound. It was obvious everyone was having a blast.
"Laughter. Smiles. Fun," said Cathy Nikrandt, volunteer engagement manager. "Volunteers bring fun into the residents' lives."
Marklund's motto is "Making everyday life possible for individuals with profound disabilities," and for them Tuesday and Thursdays are game days.
"They get to meet a lot of people in the community that they wouldn't necessarily be able to," Nikrandt said.
Tuesday night an award-winning cheerleading squad with various disabilities made a surprise appearance to root them on. The Iconic AllStar Wildcat Cheer Team are a non-profit cheerleading team led by volunteers like Kelly Roule.
"It's amazing, they always thank me but really I thank them," Roule said. "It's a gift I can't even believe I've been blessed to have."
"They didn't know that was going to happen, so this is going to be really fun to see their reaction to seeing these cheers being done," said Wesley Kochan, Marklund Hyde Center Recreation Therapist.
"They watch baseball on TV and for them to come out in a baseball field where they can actually comfortably move about, it's just great to watch," said Jennifer Milles, volunteer.
The Iconic AllStar Wildcat Cheer Team is on a roll, too. They won gold as the USA national team in Orlando, and cheered at the 50th anniversary Special Olympics in Chicago.
Next summer, Marklund Hyde Center will start playing three weekly baseball games in Geneva.