Evangel University stresses the importance of service, and it’s really not a hard sell with students.
Case in point: Senior recreation and sport management major Amanda Landolt and graduate Mitchell Jenkins.
Landolt plays basketball for Evangel and also works for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board during her summer breaks. Jenkins is a graduate of Evangel University and is now a Realtor with Murney Associates, Realtors. Through the park board, they were introduced to The Miracle League, an organization that provides children with disabilities an opportunity to play baseball.
Using the buddy system, The Miracle League pairs participants with volunteers who help them bat and run the bases. The field is a cushioned, synthetic turf, and players using wheelchairs and walkers can glide unrestricted without fear of injury.
“It’s just awesome,” Landolt said. “I get emotional when I see these kids and all they can do. People look at them and say, ‘Oh, they’re disabled. They can’t do this or that.’ They certainly can do things! They make it work!”
Their enthusiasm and concern for others is contagious, so the entire Evangel women’s basketball team volunteered with The Miracle League last fall.
It was a weekly commitment.
“They were automatically on board,” Landolt said of her coaches and teammates. “The girls came in the first night, and it was an awesome experience. It was neat to work with a special population of kids and enjoy serving them and watching them grow as individuals. Even though our weeks were long with academics and athletics, we had enough for those kids. It became something that we all looked forward to.”
Landolt said working with the league is different each week. “It’s never boring, constantly changing. You just gotta go with it,” she said. “These kids are such an inspiration to all of us and teach each one of us to pursue our dreams and just keep moving forward in life,” Jenkins adds.
The 2010 Kickapoo High graduate plans to study special education at the master’s level, so “just go with it” may become a life theme for Landolt. To anyone considering volunteering or working with people with disabilities, she says, “If you have it in your heart, find a way to do it.”