Home Community FCVA Inclusion Day was a big hit

FCVA Inclusion Day was a big hit

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By Tanya Buresh-Werby

FCVA Executive Director Sarah Kranz-Ciment and Friendship Circle Friend Jaxx

Friendship Circle of Virginia hosted its 2nd annual Inclusion Day at the Diamond on Sunday, May 21. The free event,  open to the public, was designed to celebrate inclusion for fans of all abilities.

Disability Inclusion Day at the Diamond highlights the importance of an inclusive community by bringing people with and without disabilities together to experience a baseball game in a supportive, inclusive environment.

Program Director Tanya Buresh-Werby and Family – son, Ari and husband, Steve

Friendship Circle of Virginia gave away 10,000 free tickets, added accessibility supports so that people with disabilities, mental health conditions, and their loved ones could participate in America’s favorite pastime in an iconic RVA way.

Over 4,500 tickets were requested and attendance was 7,488.  Many disability related organizations attended the game from as far as Northern Virginia, the Tidewater areas, and many cities between.

 

Our volunteers.

Those who attended this inclusive game could select from a wide variety of services ranging from audio description services, increased accessible seating (thanks to 4 generous suite donations), and the expanded Sensory Zone included a floor space for tots, a dark cozy space for those who needed a break from the sites and sounds, table top activities, and interactive robotics experience thanks to the Atlee High School s Robotics team.

Rabbi Paul and Rabbi Kranz enjoy the day.

The day kicked off with a pre-game ceremony. It featured a congratulatory letter from Gov. Glen Youngkin read by Todd “Parney” Parnell, Vice President and COO of the Flying Squirrels, a letter of congratulations gifted to Friendship Circle from U.S. Sen.  Mark Warner’s office, and Richmond’s own Shayy Winn, an American Idol finalist and legally blind musical artist who performed the National Anthem.

Additional people were special guests State Sen. Lamont Bagby and Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg.

Several Friendship Circle friends and teens had the opportunity to throw out a first pitch.

Following the ceremony, fans enjoyed a game between the Flying Squirrels and the Akron Rubber Ducks. The home team won 5-3, but the real winners were the fans who were able to enjoy a day of fun and inclusion.

 

Plans for our 3rd Annual Disability Inclusion Day are already in the works for May 2024, but for now, please join Friendship Circle at their upcoming 3rd Annual Walk N Roll on Nov. 19th!

FCVA would like to thank their presenting sponsor, fas mart as well as six event sponsors: Allianz Partners, Capital One, Dominion Energy, Genworth, Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, and Rudlin Torah Academy to help to make all the accessibility and support options available for the families and fans who attended the game.

 

“This is the first community event we have been able to attend as a family since our 4-year-old was diagnosed last year with autism,” said a mom sitting in the stands in tears. “It is very lonely to navigate this new world with no community or friends that understand us. Thank you for this opportunity for friendship and I’ve already met another mom!”

 

“It was a beautiful afternoon watching the Richmond Flying Squirrels with Friendship Circle of Virginia and Senator Lamont Bagby for Disability Inclusion Day,” said Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg. “It’s a day to bring people with and without disabilities together to experience a baseball game in a supportive, inclusive environment! ”

Founded on the core belief that everyone has something to offer, and that everyone belongs, Friendship Circle of Virginia is committed to building an inclusive community one friendship at a time.

To learn more about Friendship Circle of Virginia, please visit www.friendshipcircleva.org.

For more photos, visit www.facebook.com/FriendshipCircleOfVirginia.org