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FCVA Celebrates 3rd Annual Disability Inclusion Day at The Diamond with many thank you’s

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Throwing out a pitch.

By Tanya Buresh-Werby, Assistant Director, FCVA

The Friendship Circle of Virginia hosted its third annual Disability Inclusion Day at The Diamond, in partnership with the Richmond Flying Squirrels and presented by Fast Mart.

The event, which drew a crowd of over 7,200 fans despite the looming threat of rain, was a resounding success, highlighting the importance of inclusive community events.

Premier sponsors for the event included Allianz Partners, Capital One, Dominion, Genworth, Heritage Wealth, Rudlin Torah Academy, The UPS Store at Gayton Crossing, and an All Star sponsor,theJewish Community Federation of Richmond.

Their contributions helped make this special day possible, including giving away 10,000 free tickets to over 135 disability organizations throughout RVA and emphasizing the community’s commitment to inclusivity and support for individuals with disabilities.

Richmond native and “American Idol” contestant Shayy Winn (below), who is legally blind, delivered a stirring rendition of the national anthem, adding a special touch to the day’s proceedings.

 

The event was further enriched by the participation of Friendship Circle friends, who took to the field to throw out the first pitches. For many of these participants, it was a moment of true belonging and community inclusion.

One of the standout features of the day was the sensory zone, which catered to fans with varying sensory needs. The zone featured a range of activities designed to engage different motor skills and interests.

 

These included a gross motor skills section, fine motor skill activities with table-top options, interactive robots from Atlee Robotics, and a popular Lego station provided by Bricks4Kidz.

New this year was a Kosher hot dog and knish stand, which was a hit among attendees.

 

Additional supports included American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, audio description, closed captioning, donated suites for increased accessible seating, an adult changing area, nut free areas, and more.

As the event concluded, it was clear that Disability Inclusion Day at The Diamond was more than just a baseball game; it was a celebration of community, inclusivity, and the joy of coming together to support one another. The success of the day promises a bright future for further inclusive events in Richmond.

The event received heartfelt feedback from attendees. One group home expressed their gratitude, stating, “The event was a huge success for our home’s residents, and we are grateful to you and all the staff and volunteers.”

A parent of a child with disabilities shared a touching message: “You don’t realize how many activities your family is excluded from until you experience true inclusion. I didn’t think a baseball game was in the cards for us. After an afternoon at the Squirrels stadium, including a sensory picnic area where my son played for two hours, he didn’t want to come home. Thank you for this incredible event and including my kids. I am so grateful.”

 

Another parent highlighted the impact on their family, saying, “What a wonderful family memory. This is the first time either of our two children on the autism spectrum have ever attended a baseball game, and it was so spectacular. Now we know we might be able to try others in the future.”

The Prince George County Special Olympics also expressed their appreciation: “We had a group of about 40 who were able to enjoy the wonderful experience thanks to the Friendship Circle’s dedicated volunteers and donations. The only thing that would have made it perfect would have been a Squirrels’ win! Thank you again for your generosity.”

Friendship Circle of Virginia’s Disability Inclusion Day at The Diamond stands as a testament to the power of community and the importance of creating inclusive environments. By bringing together sponsors, volunteers, and families, the event not only provided a memorable day of fun but also highlighted the ongoing need for inclusion and accessibility in all areas of life.