Maytag & hhgregg Salute: Larry Wallace
18 May, 2015
Why We’re Saluting Larry:
Larry Wallace is a man who enjoys sports. Not only watching them, but teaching them, and enjoying helping others to play them. That’s why he created Buddy Ball, an organization that helps special needs kids “get in the game.”
What is your family life like?
My wife and I have 4 kids and 7 grandchildren. We enjoy working in the church and attending our grandchildren’s ball games.
Tell us the story behind creating Buddy Ball. How and why did you start it?
I started Buddy Ball in 1991. I was the coach of my daughters’ softball team. During a break between games, I wandered upon a man hitting balls to a group of 4 or 5 special needs kids. I was amazed at the joy it was bringing to those kids. I knew right then that that was where my heart belonged. I first started a baseball league, and when it was over we had so much fun we started basketball. Since then we added bowling, cheerleading, and flag football. We even have a prom for the older kids.
What is your favorite moment that came from working with Buddy Ball?
Every year, we have our own flag football Super Bowl game. The head football coach, Ron Lambert, and the team members from Rossview High School help us put it on. Coach splits his players into 2 groups and each group coaches and prepares our buddy ball teams for a game. We play on their field and use the team game jerseys. My favorite part is watching the high school players get excited when our players make plays and touchdowns. The high school team gets as much joy as our players do.
Tell us what the goal is behind Buddy Ball? How is it making a difference with the kids?
Our goal is that every player has the opportunity to play a team sport and play it like they watch others do. Our motto is “the game’s the same……just different” We want our game to look and feel as much like a real game as we can. We want our players to have the joy of playing a game and belonging to a team.
What do you think it means to be a “hero,” and how does it feel to be nominated?
I’m not sure I’m a hero; I’m just someone that wants to pass his love of sports to a group of people that have been left out of the opportunity to play a team sport.
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