Advocating for Kids with Special Needs

July 23, 2013 Updated Jul 24, 2013 at 2:35 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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July 23, 2013 Updated Jul 24, 2013 at 2:35 PM EDT


Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - The Buffalo Bisons hosted its annual Special Needs Awareness Night, so that families and anyone with disabilities can come and enjoy a baseball game.

The night was extra special for Kathy Bunce. Before enjoying the Bisons game, Exceptional Parents Magazine and the Buffalo Agency teamed up to present Bunce with an award for her hard work of advocating for those with disabilities.

"Lawmakers and budget directors don't realize what its like raising an individual with a developmental disability, or someone living with a developmental disability in the community," Bunce says.

Kathy has helped spearhead campaigns to bring attention to the lack of education and resources for the developmentally disabled. This is personal for Kathy. She became involved because of her 18-year-old daughter.

"As she's gotten older, I'm realizing that they're not just going to happen without getting involved. And no one's really understands better than a parent," Bunce says.

Also on the field -- J.J. Henings, who threw the first pitch.

"It's a symbol," says his mother, Latressa Watkins Henings. "Just because you are special need, you can do anything." Her son has Down Syndrome and is part of a baseball team for kids with special needs. The entire baseball team rooted him on.

In many ways, these kids are just like every other child -- laughing, dancing and cheering on the game.

"They are capable of doing more than some people," says Tonya Barker with Project Gift. "A lot of people don't realize that, and a lot of people don't realize that. They need to understand that and come and see them."

Advocates hope these very special children teach others on the field a powerful lesson.

"There's so much energy and love coming from them because they have unconditional love -- and that is fabulous," Barker says.