For some, just attending a Red Sox game alone would be unforgettable, but for one South Windsor Little League team a whole entire day spent at Fenway Park became a remarkable dream come true.
CVS Caremark put together the All Kids Can Baseball Camp at Fenway Park where these players would receive batting instructions from Red Sox coach Dave Magadan, as well as a tour around Fenway Park, VIP viewing of the Red Sox batting practice and tickets to the game that night. Stephen Callahan is the coach of the South Windsor Challenger team, consisting of physically and/or mentally disabled kids with ages ranging from 7 to 20 years old.
Though there are other challenger teams throughout Connecticut, the South Windsor team won the drawing for the opportunity to participate in this all-day camp experience. "It was like winning the baseball lottery" Callahan said.
Not everyone in the group are Sox fans, but this event appeared to have a great influence on some Challenger families. “We are Yankee fans.” South Windsor Challenger mom, Lynne McAvoy said that morning. “But I gave in and bought our whole family Red Sox shirts.”
They were directed to walk down the stairs of the Red Sox dugout into the inside batting tunnel where Coach Dave Magadan appeared with a smile on his face and ready to bat with the players. The first up to bat was Danny Bullock of South Windsor. Danny sat in his wheel chair, grinning ear to ear and hit the ball off of the tee. Team members cheered on their teammates as they each took turns hitting with the infamous Red Sox Batting coach.
After the batting tunnel, they went out on the field where the kids could test their skills and what they learned from Coach Magadan.
While the hitting was taking place, Wally the Red Sox mascot came down from the stands to surprise the kids. They were beaming as they approached Wally for hugs and autographs.
Lunch time was after that, followed by a tour around Fenway Park where the tour guide engaged the kids in historic stories of the Red Sox.
At the end of the tour, the Challenger players were asked to regroup back onto the field while the Red Sox participated in their own batting practice. Walking back onto the field was surreal as the Challenger teammates chanted out names of their favorite players to come over to the side lines. Red Sox and Cleveland Indians players made their way over to the South Windsor players throughout practice, to talk and sign autographs.
The team cheered, “Let’s Go Red Sox,” from their seats after the first pitch was thrown for the game, and participated in all of the customary game behaviors such as doing the wave and the 7th inning stretch.
"These kids will never forget this day." Coach Callahan said. "It was a once in a lifetime experience."