Benefactors watch special-needs athletes play ball

Athletes from the Challenged Athletes Dream Complex adult league get together after their game on Saturday. Benefactors who helped reconfigure the complex with a handicap-accessible concession stand and bathroom got to watch teams from the adult league and the Challenger League play.
  • WANT TO KNOW MORE?Contact Sheila Arnold at 361-935-2544 for more information about the Challenged Athletes Dream Complex and its adult league as well as its Challenger League.

Zachary Oracion must have jaws of steel, because that guy never gets tired of smiling.

And why should he? The 13-year-old is living it large with a Little League baseball career where his favorite part is hitting home runs.

Zachary also has a cognitive disability that makes it difficult for him to express himself as a "normal" kid.

Yet he is still an American kid who deserves to play the nation's pastime. So Krueger Construction, Associated Builders and Contractors and the Builders Association donated labor and materials to reconfigure the Challenged Athletes Dream Complex at Riverside Park with a handicap-accessible concession stand and bathrooms.

Other individuals also gave their time and money to the project. The Challenged Athletes Dream Complex honored those benefactors on Saturday by letting them watch Zachary and others like him take the field.

That included teams from the Challenger League, ages 4 through 22, and the Challenged Athletes Dream Complex adult league.

"The whole goal was to have them there so that they could see what their money was going toward," said Sheila Arnold, a member of the complex's board of directors.

The complex provided free food to about 200 people to show its appreciation, Horn said. She added that the complex next wants to put a rubberized or synthetic surface on the field.

But back to the game.

Joann Oracion, Zachary's mom and secretary for the complex's board, said that while the event was meant to appreciate benefactors, it was just another day in the park for the athletes.

"The kids just come to play. They don't have an agenda," Joann Oracion said.

That isn't to say the players don't care about the donations, volunteers, coaches and team mom's who bring treats to each game. In fact, Zachary has a message for all of them that only he can deliver in his soft, happy voice.

"Try baseball - this is very fun," he whispered.

Well said, slugger.