On Saturday and Sunday, July 11 and 12, 2015 Alström Angels hosted 15 teams in Lubbock’s first beeping baseball tournament for children and adults who are blind, visually impaired, and those that are sighted; everyone plays blindfolded. Yep, we said BLINDFOLDED! More than 160 West Texans were blindfolded and up-to-bat! Teams for the inaugural BEEPball Tournament range from gymnastics teams, cheerleading squads, occupational and physical therapists, vision therapists, families, existing baseball teams, civic organizations, and three completely vision impaired youth teams.
Beep Baseball was started in 1964 by engineers at the Mountain Bell Telephone Company. The game was designed to allow individuals with visual disabilities the chance to play one of America’s greatest sports; baseball. In Beep Baseball, both the balls and bases are modified to emit an audible beep, which allow blindfolded players to fully engage in the game. All players, regardless of visual ability or disability, must wear blindfolds to even the playing field.
The community event was brought to Lubbock by Alström Angels, a Lubbock-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children diagnosed with Alström Syndrome. Alström Syndrome is a genetic disease that affects children with complete blindness, deafness, type 2 diabetes, kidney and liver failure, congestive heart failure and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
“Because childhood blindness is such a big part of Alström Syndrome, the BEEPball Tournament is a great way for us to raise awareness for all blind and vision impaired children and adults,” said Cassie Johnston, co-founder and executive director of Alström Angels. “I can’t think of a better way to raise awareness for a disability than to let someone experience it.”
“We have a passion for being involved in the community,” said Tiffany Jobe, RN with BeyondFaith Homecare, a 2015 BEEPball Tournament sponsor. “When we heard about Alström Angels we felt it was a great cause to support and help promote awareness. We also thought it would be an excellent team building activity for our staff & colleagues to do together,” Jobe continued. “We have had a couple of practices and already realized the challenges of being blindfolded.”
As the tournament narrowed down to the final teams, competition got heated but everyone remembered why they were playing and the purpose of the event. In the end, there were laughs, collisions, runs, outs, and lots of cheering. In all, 90 runs were scored at the Alstrom Angels BEEPball Tournament! Team "What the BEEP!" claimed second place, and team "Can't Touch This" took home the championship title.
For more information about how the game of Beep Baseball is played visit: lubbockbeepball.org.
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