Skyline Church’s Game Day Outing
The following post was written by Tonya Langdon, the special needs ministry coordinator for Skyline Church (San Diego, CA). Tonya has long been one of my favorite special needs ministry experts, having served as her children’s ministry special needs go-to person for many years. In 2010 Tonya helped me teach one of the special needs workshops at the National Children’s Pastor’s Conference. Tonya is wealth of knowledge and is also one of the writers behind www.kidmin1124.com, a blog devoted to all things volunteer and children’s ministry. Tonya frequently writes about issues related to special needs accommodation. For more on Tonya’s ministry, see www.specialneedskidz.com.
Below, Tonya shares how Focus on the Family partnered with her church to treat families impacted by special needs to a special outing and fantastic memory.
Baseball Games! Oh how I love to watch the San Diego Padres play baseball! There is excitement in the air when you go to Petco Park to watch them play, eat a hot dog or two and seeing the fireworks go off when one of the Padres hits a home run! Sadly, many families who have children with special needs will never attend a baseball game at Petco Park; until now.
Bo Mitchell, who has served as the Denver Nuggets Chapel Coordinator, noticed how many empty seats there were in the area reserved for those with disabilities. Game Day Memories was created to reach families with children with special needs and by provide them with tickets FREE of charge to local sporting events. Recently, Focus on the Family and Game Day Memories joined forces to reach more families throughout the nation. Each liaison, like myself , then distributes these tickets to the families with children who have special needs. To assist the families , they are paired with a hosts (they also receive free tickets). These amazing hosts will serve these families and their children during the game, giving them a much needed reprieve from their daily challenges and obstacles, while providing some time of fun and fellowship.
As the liaison for Focus on the Family and Game Day Memories, I had the pleasure of distributing the tickets to 29 families, who received 6 seats for each game. Many of these families had never been to a Padre Game and were ecstatic to receive the tickets for free! Some had tears in their eyes as I handed them their tickets, gratitude that there was someone who was reaching out to them and not asking for anything from them. One family drove for over hour and half so their son could attend the game! While another family wrote me and said they could only stay until the fifth inning, but they were happy for that was a long time for their son to attend a game. Simple pleasures that most of us take for granted.
Most of us can’t give away large amounts of tickets to sporting events or create a time of respite for alot of families. However, at each of our upcoming children’s events (VBS, camp, Kidz Night Out) we need to be more purposeful in our efforts to included families with special needs and finding creative ways to offer scholarships to help ease the financial burdens that often keeps them from being able to participate. Will it be a grand event? Not likely. Will it ease someone else’s burdens? Hopefully, even if it is only for a few hours. – Tonya Langdon