Children with special needs played an exciting game of softball at Mount Pleasant Middle School on September 25, thanks to the Livingston Advisory Committee for Disabilities and volunteers from the local fire and police departments.
The Blues vs. Reds modified softball game, which began in 2000, took a five-year break until returning this year.
The modified softball game had each participating child paired with a "Blue" police officer or "Red" fire fighter. Family members, friends and fellow residents were encouraged to play or cheer for the children from the sidelines.
For every play made by the children with special needs - whether up at bat, making their way around the bases or for a play in the field - cheers of encouragement filled the softball field.
Audrey Kaplinksy, an organizer for the Blues vs. Reds softball game and LACD member, used her megaphone throughout the game to encourage everyone to cheer. At times Kaplinksky ventured onto the field to walk a special needs child who just made a hit to first base.
Tracey Bent , a captain with the Livingston fire department and volunteer at the softball game said, "I come out every year to help out with the kids. You help them through the field and help them swing and you just try to make it as fun as you can for them."
Community Policing Officers Joy Klapal and Gary Mankowitz volunteered for the game.
"We like to help out people in the community," said Mankowitz. Klapal added, "We feel it's important to give back to the community."
Also supporting the game were more than 20 police officers, fire fighters and members of Livingston's first aid squad.
At the end of the game, the children received a medal and everyone was invited to stay for pizza. Police officers and fire fighters also showed interested children some of their work gear. Children took turns trying on items like a fire fighter's helmet and holding the hose on the truck.
"It's easy to smile when you see the kids smile," said Bent, who is also a Livingston resident. "It just makes me happy to see them happy."
To learn more about the LACD and view upcoming events, please visit http://www.livingstonnj.org/lacd.htm.