When George Baskerville, a project manager for Wells Fargo Advisors, saw an article about the construction of a baseball diamond adapted especially for players with disabilities, he was intrigued — but he had no idea it would lead to the start of a decade-long passion. Out of curiosity, he took his then 9-year-old son to the ribbon-cutting. Since that day, he has spent hundreds of Saturday mornings at that same site, doing everything from setting up equipment to running wheelchair-bound players around the bases.
“I wouldn’t trade this for anything,” said Baskerville of his work with The Miracle® League of Richmond, which has grown from about 40 participants in its first year to more than 110 today.
Players range in age from 5-25 years old, and disabilities run the gamut. During games, everyone plays, there are no outs or scores, and everyone is a winner.
“It’s that opportunity for players to be in the moment, and to drive toward success on their terms,” said Baskerville. “And I think that plays a big part in how they see themselves as being greater than the rest of the world might see them.”
For the love of a son
Baskerville’s son, Geoffrey, was the catalyst for his involvement. As a 9-year-old just starting with the Miracle League, he didn’t speak much and had limited experience with sports.
“I’ve gotten to see him go from a 9-year-old that was only partially verbal to a young man who’s now 19 years old and able to go out on his own and do things for himself that he couldn’t do when he first started.”
Baskerville attributes much of the progress Geoffrey has made to the ‘yes I can’ spirit of The Miracle League.
“It provides them with a sense of awareness that they can be anything that they want to be,” he said. “They can achieve anything that they want to achieve.”
Supporting volunteer passion
Baskerville’s passion for The Miracle League — no secret around his office — has inspired others to get involved. At nearly every game, Wells Fargo team member volunteers serve as “buddies,” assisting and encouraging the players and keeping them safe on the field.
“To have the people I work with come out and do this with me is everything,” said Baskerville. “It shows the commitment we have for one another and our desire to do bigger and better things for the community.”
Helping communities thrive
In 2016, Wells Fargo recognized Baskerville’s dedication with a Volunteer Service Award and a $10,000 grant to The Miracle League of Richmond. The funds helped pay for adaptive restroom facilities adjacent to the field.
“In the special needs world, cost is an obstacle, and it takes a small army to support the kids,” Baskerville said. “Wells Fargo plays an important part in this to me. It’s not about money or banking — it’s about being part of the community and helping it grow.”
Baskerville has logged more than 1,000 volunteer hours with the league since he began volunteering a decade ago. And he hopes his efforts to help players thrive through the art of the game last even after they age out of The Miracle League. “We want them to go into their next experience, whether that’s with Special Olympics or another organization, so they can continue growing their love of the sport.”