Ten-year-old Campbell Labonte delivered a strike for deafblind awareness throwing out the first pitch at Tuesday’s Blue Jays game.
With dad Bert at his side acting as Campbell’s intervenor, they followed Campbell’s routine of gripping and exploring the ball, making three practice throwing motions and then letting the ball fly at home plate where it was caught and returned by Blue Jays player Thomas Pannone. At Campbell’s side cheering him on was Blue Jays mascot Ace. The Blue Jays blasted Van Halen’s Panama over the PA, which is Campbell’s cue to throw the first pitch.
“I’m just thrilled,” said Campbell’s mom Joanna, watching from the first base media bay.
This was the ninth year for our Blue jays First Pitch for deafblind awareness, but the first time we performed the anthems.
Standing in centre field, W. Ross Macdonald students Daren Kler, Pierre Laforet and Lilly Ruston sang the Star Spangled Banner and then O Canada. They were accompanied by teachers Tim Boyd and Joe Johnson.
Signing O Canada were Alecia, Allison, John Jr., LeeAnn, Nat, Richard and Yi-Min, with their intervenors, respectively, Brenda, Kaitlyn, Melissa, Samantha, Lois, Kirsty and Sharon, and Andrea. Joining the performance were music therapist Amy Di Nino, intern Trevor Dalton and event planning and development assistant Sam Gaspar.
The anthems were met with rousing applause from the stands at Rogers Centre. It was a great moment for National Deafblind Awareness Month.
Joanna, on an emotional high for her son, was moved to tears by the singing and signing.
“I’m a big wreck,” she said, laughing.
Deafblind awareness was both big picture and little picture. On their way to the their accessible seats, a boy approached Campbell and offered him his baseball, saying he’d seen him throw the first pitch. The boy then signed his name Mathew on the baseball for Campbell.
Campbell’s teachers Suzanne Piquette LaChapelle and Pascal Lafrance from Marius-Barbeau Catholic Elementary School in Ottawa surprised the Labontes by coming to the game. They waved giant cardboard cutouts of Campbell’s smiling face as the 10-year-old entered the field, drawing smiles of astonishment from Joanna and Bert.
Suzanne said they bought their tickets with Sensity two weeks prior to the game and were able to keep their attendance a secret from the Labontes.
Also their to cheer on Campbell were his grandparents, Flo, Jim and Lynda and uncle Jason, who is Joanna’s brother.
Thank you to the Blue Jays for our first class treatment, especially playing Panama for Campbell’s pitch.
Blue Jays ticket sales representative Ryan McMorrow looked after fine details like presenting Campbell with a Blue Jays jersey with the number 10 for his age.
Kudos also to security staff Christian, Chris and Mason for their help with entry to the stadium and parking.
Bert, Joanna and Sensity CEO Cathy Proll were interviewed for an upcoming edition of AMI This Week. Thank you to the Accessible Media Inc.’s Johanna Ryan, producer, Alex Smyth, bureau reporter, and Arthur Pressick, camera operator.
A friend of Sensity, former Brant News and Norfolk News journalist JP Antonacci, stopped by and was planning a piece about the first pitch for Canadian Baseball Network.
We sold 132 tickets to the game, which is always a popular event with our consumers and intervenors, their families, other staff and stakeholders.