WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Wichita Park and Recreation’s Miracle League has offered inclusive sports for 13 years. This summer, they are expanding the opportunities with a swim team.
Shana Appelhanz’s son Blane joined Miracle League three years ago and is very excited to begin swim practice.
“Part of me is kind of worried we aren’t going to be able to get him to leave,” said Shana Appelhanz, Blane’s mother.
She said Blane is nonverbal, and the league is an exciting part of his day. However, his first time participating was a bit rough.
“It was sensory overload, you know. It was so much going on, and there were hundreds of people around,” said Appelhanz.
Appelhanz continued to bring Blane out, and eventually, those hundreds of people became Blane’s best friends.
“He never really had those opportunities to get out into the community and flourish,” said Appelhanz.
The family has seen Blane find new ways to express himself out on the field.
“He’ll throw his hands up in the air and walk around like ‘look at me,’ and you watch this kid, and he’s non-verbal, but I mean, he has no problem showing emotion,” said Appelhanz.
Appelhanz said she wanted to support closer than the sideline. She now works as a coach for Blane’s teams.
Blane’s brother, Bryce, also decided to get involved as his “Buddy,” the title for those who assist each athlete.
“I saw that smile come out a lot more instead of him not wanting to smile. And it was just pretty huge because he’s learned a lot of new things now,” said Bryce.
Shana says watching Blane mature over the years is all that she could have asked for.
“My mom’s heart is full. You can’t ask for anything more when you have a kiddo that you see him just dying to be involved. It’s such a blessing for us,” said Shana.
Miracle League is seeking volunteers and participants for the summer swim team. Sign-ups are available until Sunday, June 18. Click here to register.