What started as a school project for a sixth grader is turning into a life-changing camp for disabled kids.
A 12-year-old decided to bring the project outside the classroom and onto a new playing field.
Dickinson College paired with students from Carlisle High School and Wilson Middle School to give them an unforgettable day in the sun.
“Devil’s on three. 1,2,3, Devils!” chanted the Dickson College baseball team.
They’re a tight-knit bunch.
“Lots of laughs. About 38 of the weirder people I know,” Dickinson College baseball player Sean McEwen said of his teammates.
These players love what they do.
“It’s the dream of almost every little kid to play sports in college,” McEwen said.
On this day, the focus is bigger than the number on the scoreboard.
“What’s going on fellas?” said a player walking up to a group of special needs students.
These kids are getting out of the dugout and onto the diamond.
“Cameron’s a natural. You’ve been pumping heat all day, haven’t you Cameron?” the Dickinson baseball coach said to one of the special needs kids. She giggled in affirmation.
“Go people go!” one special needs kid shouted from his wheelchair.
“I’m having fun,” his friend said.
The real MVP of this game is Ellie Smarr. At 12-years-old, she created this camp and knocked it out of the park.
“Each bag says their names and inside,” Ellie said, tugging at a few bags, “they have their own glove that they’ll get to take home.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of her,” Ellie’s mom Tori said.
Her grandparents were also standing by watching in support.
“Did you know that Ellie? The coach says he hopes you make this a yearly thing.”
Ellie’s inspiration is her 16-year-old brother Nick. She put her arm around him on the sidelines and said, “Are you having fun, Nick?”
Nick smiled, gave her hug and shyly murmured into her ear. Ellie then smiled and blurted out, “Yeah, you’re with me!”
Nick has Down syndrome, but his relationship with Ellie is no different than any other brother and sister.
“I’ve sort of learned how to manipulate his emotions,” Ellie said with a devilish glare in her eye.
Their mom Tori said they’re each other’s biggest fans.
“She really looks out for him. but he’s also very protective and looks out for her.”
Ellie’s mission is to get disabled kids off the sidelines. She encourages others to be inclusive and let special needs kids and adults participate in the game of life.
“In some cases, it seems like [people with special needs] almost have a bigger zest for life,” Tori Smarr said.
“I love baseball because it’s a good time to have a social life,” said one of the players standing on the mound.
Local businesses caught wind of Ellie’s game plan. To make sure she hit a home run, they donated more than $5,000 in support.
The Harrisburg Senators also wanted to step up to the plate. They invited the camp kids to their game Wednesday night, when the team hosts dozens of special needs students for a night of fun. .
Ellie said the first year of camp was a hit and she plans to host it again next year.