Team wins more than 1st place

Published 9:09 pm Monday, July 16, 2012

Roughton Emiley Gurganus, Morgan Dixon, Jazmine Carawan, Mallory Nobles, Hailey Fornes,


It has the makings of local legend: pitcher and catcher colluding without words as the next batter stepped up to the plate, knowing the girl had never made to first base before, though she’d played all season.

A decision was made, unbeknownst to coaches, parents and anyone else on the field, and the team on the field took matters in its own hands and made it happen.

The batter in this case was a special-needs child; the team that helped her realize a dream of rounding the bases was the Crime Stoppers 10-and-under girls’ softball team. According to those who witnessed the event, there wasn’t dry eye in the bleachers as the young girl crossed home plate.

Monday, a local organization recognized the Crime Stoppers team for the incident, awarding certificates to thank the girls for “demonstrating outstanding respect, courtesy and acceptance of others and their special needs” and hosting a pizza party in their honor.

“We heard the story. People told us of the graciousness they showed to this child,” said Allison Crisp, director of All Challenged Children Educating People Together. “That’s exactly what ACCEPT works to do.”

Crisp and her partner in the organization, Maria Gironda, have contracts with Beaufort County Schools — Crisp as an occupational therapist; Gironda as a special-needs teacher — but their goal with the newly formed ACCEPT is to provide support services for exceptional children, as well as find ways to help people understand special-needs children.

“It’s about educating our community to accept all diversity,” said Gironda. “We’re more alike than we are different.”

Inviting the Crime Stoppers softball team to spend the morning at the ACCEPT day camp, helping the camp children with art projects like painting birdhouses, drawing shapes, making rainbows with brightly colored tissue paper, is one of the ways to bridge the gap between exceptional needs children and “typical needs” children, said Crisp.

“We’ve found that it’s the children that can educate the parents,” said Crisp.

According to Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Crime Stoppers coordinator Karen Ball, that’s exactly what the team did on the field that day.

“At their age, to be able to make smart decisions like that — I think that’s awesome,” said Ball. “I have never been so proud to be a part of something in my whole life.”

Coach Tania Harris, also a 911 telecommunicator for the sheriff’s office, said the Crime Stoppers’ experience on the diamond shows the lessons to be learned through recreational ball.

“It’s not just about competition,” said Harris.  “It teaches morals, sportsmanship and camaraderie. They showed compassion — it wasn’t just about winning.”