The following is an article published in 2013.  For registration forms, click on the links to the left or go to the Wonder League website. 

By Stuart Tiffen Staff Writer | 0 comments

Baseball league for kids with special needs wraps up third successful season

A dozen members of the Wonder League played their final game of the season in style on Saturday when they joined the Healdsburg Prune Packers at Recreation Park.

The Healdsburg Wonder League program is a mini baseball league designed for children, ages 4 through 19, with special needs. For the last game of the season, each child was paired with a Prune Packer buddy, who assisted them with hitting, fielding the ball and moving around the bases.

The rules of Wonder League games are simple. Nobody keeps score, everybody hits and gets on base and everybody has fun.

The children from the Wonder League and their Prune Packer buddies all warmed up with some catching and batting practice for a few minutes before the game got underway.

The Wonder League, now in its third year, is organized and was founded by the Rotary Club of Healdsburg Sunrise.

Rotarian and league commissioner, George Lawson, had been involved in a similar endeavor when he lived in Washington and launched the Wonder League in Healdsburg when he arrived here, he said.

The league serves four basic groups, he said.

“There’s the kids themselves,” Lawson said. “They benefit from teamwork, exercise and not missing out on an experience.”

Second are the parents.

“They’re usually stretched so thin, it’s often created a split in the family,” he said. “In our games they can just sit back and watch. We get buddies for the kids to supervise and help them out.”

The third group they serve are the volunteers, who are often drawn from high school sports teams.

“It’s such a humbling experience to see the high school baseball or softball kids, who are usually the big kids on campus, go out and meet these Wonder League kids and see how happy these kids are.”

Finally, the league serves the community itself.

“I think we can all be proud that we have something like this for our kids,” he said. “Thirty percent of the kids in the Wonder League come from Spanish speaking families, so it’s very representative of the community.”

Chanelle Adamson, of Cloverdale, said her family has been participating in the Wonder League since it started in Healdsburg three years ago.

“It’s just been wonderful,” Adamson said. “It’s been a nice opportunity for our son, and also nice to be able to find this kind of service so close to home and to watch it grow.”

Her son, 13-year-old Kaidin, looks forward to every game and they typically make it to the majority of them during the season, which lasts from January to June.

“Playing with the Prune Packers is like playing with the big boys to these kids,” she said. “Just the fact that they can hang around with these guys, who take the sport seriously, it’s great.”

Riley Sullivan, president of the Prune Packers, said he wants to bring the team and the Wonder League closer together in the future.

“I definitely want a stronger bond in 2014,” Sullivan said. “We’d like to start there from day one with them, it’s a beautiful relationship.”

For information on the Wonder League, visit http://wonderleague.org/.