KAY COUNTY, Okla. – An Oklahoma team that gives everyone a chance to play is being honored.
“If you go to anything in this community, a baseball game, a football game,” Jayme Moss said. “Those kids are the kids you see in the bleachers cheering the loudest and the happiest, and he just thought there was a need for these kids to be able to play a game of their own.”
Rocky Wood also took notice of a group of children with special needs cheering on the others from the bleachers.
A few years ago, he decided to form a t-ball league for children with special needs. He called it Kara’s Game after Kara Mitchell, a young girl with special needs who died several years ago.
“To let that family know that she wasn’t forgotten in the shadows,” Rocky said. “She was recognized. A lot of people didn’t know her, and that’s the whole point of this, is awareness.”
Moss nominated Wood for KFOR’s Pay It 4Ward award in March.
“They're not different. They're not sick. They're just kids. A lot of these families have exceptional medical costs. So for these kids to get to do this, that's why we do it, as happy as they are. When we first started it was all about fun, and now the older kids, it's competition,"Wood said.
There is no cost to play, and no disability is turned away.
"They always feel like they're in the shadows,” Rocky said. “They don't get the spotlight."
Wood told News 4 that he wanted to build a handicap accessible ball field, but it would take time to raise enough money to build it.
As luck would have it, 'Kara's Game' also touched some at State Farm. Out of 2,000 submissions across the United States, 'Kara's Game' survived the first round of selections by the company and remained in the Top 200.
In August, State Farm asked the general public to trim the list down to the Top 40 by voting for their favorite cause. In just 10 days, more than 3 million votes were cast and 'Kara's Game' shot to the top and remained No. 1 in voting for nearly the entire contest.
The insurance company recently selected the group as the winners of a $25,000 State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant.
Organizers say there will be a check presentation on Friday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. in Blackwell during the football homecoming game.
"They are now able to build their field of dreams," an email to News 4 read. "I have been amazed at what Pay It Forward started for this awesome group of kids."