ATLANTA - This summer, kids and young adults all over the country are enjoying America's favorite pastime, and those who love baseball come in all shapes, sizes and abilities.
Good Day Atlanta's Ron Gant recently caught up with a group of people who have found a way to face any disadvantage and live their dreams on the diamond - including 21-year-old Taylor Duncan.
Diagnosed with autism at 4-years-old, Duncan never let it get in the way of his love for baseball. Pitching, catching and swinging a bat brought him all the way to SunTrust Park for the recent Chevy Youth Baseball Clinic. However, it was more than practice that got him there. Part of it was overcoming autism.
“I went through sensory issues, speech issues anxiety issues and many others associated with having autism," said Duncan. “And the social stigma associated with it.”
Family, mentors and coaches encouraged him along the way. They simply believed in him, which made him believe in others. Last year, Duncan founded the Alternative Baseball Organization. He said he did so “to develop the whole sport of baseball and to raise awareness and acceptance of autism and special needs. And inspire those to go after their dream, whatever it may be.”
His work in pulling together and taking on the role of Commissioner for the ABO is another reason he came to SunTrust Park recently. He brought many of the athletes from the league with him. Many hoped to come to the stadium at some point to watch a Braves game. Most never expected to be on the field.
Brothers Gregory and Gabriel were excited to not only step on the field, but to practice with some experienced coaches for a couple of hours.
“For them to get out there and just enjoy with everybody else...it opened their eyes," their father Wesley Thomas said.
Duncan has received calls from across the country and even from other countries looking for advice on how to start a league like the Alternative Baseball Organization. He seems happy to assist. And for the couple of hours he shared with his fellow athletes on the field at SunTrust Park?
“Absolutely amazing!” Duncan said. “God has truly blessed us. He really has.”