“James Barone’s daughter, Mia, is blind. On Thursday, for the first time, she played sports with kids who are also blind. “It’s just incredible to see her out there along with the rest of these kids,” said an emotional Barone.”
“A Toms River family’s 12-year-old son inspired them to build a “field of dreams” for children of all abilities.
The RWJ Barnabas Health Field of Dreams, located at 1505 N Bay Ave in Toms River, is an all-inclusive playground featuring specialized equipment that allows children of all abilities to play together.
Christian Kane, a co-founder of the park, said the complex was inspired by Gavin Kane, his 12-year-old son.”
What’s so special about a humble game of kickball?
Well, the game at Toms River’s RWJBarnabas Field of Dreams between Toms River High School East and Wall High School on Tuesday morning featured students receiving special services, combined with kids in the general population. It was an inclusive game played under the aegis of Unified Sports, an initiative of the Special Olympics.
The high school band played cheer-inducing music, and the cheerleaders led chants timed to the music, as fans lining the field cheered for their players.
But the loudest sound Tuesday night at the Field of Dreams was joy captured in the laughter of the students playing in the Unified Sports Kickball games at the complex designed for families of those with special needs.
At High School East, games of flag football, soccer, basketball, and kickball have taken place throughout the school year. This is business as usual, of course, except that these particular games have been fully inclusive, involving students receiving special services and general population students, managed and facilitated by student and staff mentors, with paraprofessionals and nurses on site. They’ve been among the most popular activities the school has hosted all year.
Sixty miles from Citizens Bank Park, the night after the Astros combined for a no-hitter in Game 4 of the World Series, two-time MLB All-Star Todd Frazier took the mound himself at The RWJBarnabas Health Field of Dreams.
Earlier this week a group of Rutgers Scarlet Knights football players made the trip down to play a game against the Toms River Warriors Inspirational Team…a group of players between 10 and 21 who love playing football.
“Is this Heaven?”
It’s a valid question standing amid the ball field, basketball hoops, bocce court, pavilion, mini golf course, and state-of-the-art special needs playground that comprise the RWJBarnabas Health Field of Dreams. But if you glanced at co-founder Christian Kane, the Kevin Costner of this family sports saga, he’d shake his head and smile.
“It’s New Jersey.”