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Inspirational Gracie Has Her Own Role Model

The 11-year-old stroke survivor looks up to a baseball pitcher who has overcome physical challenges.

After I had my stroke, my dad said he knew someone who overcame a disability in his life and I could do the same. He told me about his friend Jim.    

My dad's friend is Jim Abbott. Jim has accomplished so much, even though he could only use one hand.  Jim was a pitcher for the Angels and Yankees and even won an Olympic gold medal. 

I had the opportunity to meet with Jim and ask him some questions about how it was for him growing up. He said it was hard at times, especially when he moved to a new school or neighborhood, but he said playing sports helped him to fit in.

I could sure understand that, having gone to a new school this past year. Jim started playing baseball when he was 6. He said he just had to learn to play sports in a different way, just like I have had to adjust to doing things in new ways. 

He said his parents were very positive and never discouraged him from pursuing any activity as long as he did well in school. They treated him the same way as other kids' parents treated them, which helped him feel normal. His parents sound a lot like my mom and dad.   

Jim is retired from baseball now but does motivational speaking and charity work. Jim is also very active with Challenger baseball. I asked him how he got involved with Challenger, and he said, "I started working with Challenger when I played for the Angels and Challenger Buddy League was just starting.  

"I love the program because it allows kids of every ability to get out on the baseball diamond.  I have watched or participated in games all over the United States—even on the White House lawn."     

I am proud to say that my brother Michael has been a part of the Challenger Buddy program through Rancho Niguel Little League since even before I had my stroke.  

Jim is an inspirational person to me. He told me he feels very fortunate to be given the ability he was given, and he feels that much more was given to him than was ever taken away. He told me to stay positive and determined and to believe that there is always a way to do something.  

I am fortunate to have been able to get to know him better and to have him as a friend and role model.    

To learn more about Jim go to jimabbott.info/biography.html

To learn more about the Challenger baseball program,  go to littleleague.org/learn/about/divisions/challenger.htm.

To learn about Rancho Niguel little League Challenger division go to rnllbaseball.org/home/challenger.html     

tricia July 13, 2011 at 04:02 AM
great article once again Gracie I know you can do anything you set your mind to do! Keep up the great work!
Danna's July 13, 2011 at 06:27 AM
Wise beyond your years, Gracie. Keep going girl, you have a bright future ahead! We loved your article! The Danna's
Paula Borst July 13, 2011 at 06:11 PM
Great Article Gracie! We love reading your articles and wonder what adventure you will have next. Thanks for writing your articles.
Colleen Shissler July 18, 2011 at 03:03 AM
Hi Gracie, So inspirational to read to my kids. I'll never forget the days you helped spread the Gospel News in the Good Shepherd Room at Corpus Christi and now you're continuing to spread your God given light on thousands who meet you. Keep up the good work. Love, Ministry Teacher Colleen!
Leslie McLeod August 04, 2011 at 04:56 PM
There are so many inspirational stories out there, and now we have you to bring them to us. Thanks, Gracie

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