Taylor Duncan has created a free-to-join program to support those with autism play baseball because Duncan himself faced the same challenges growing up.
Founded January 2016 when Duncan was 20, Alternative Baseball Organization Inc. supports teens and adults with autism by giving them a place to play baseball and a social outlet helping them conquer their challenges. Over a-year-and-a-half later, this program has reached neighborhoods in over 25 states.
“It’s just absolutely amazing,” Duncan said. “I can’t wait to show everybody what we’re going to have to offer.”
At age four Duncan can remember being diagnosed with autism and as a kid who loved baseball he thought “I really couldn’t play.” Challenged to overcome his disability, he found support from God, his mother, teachers and others close to him and began playing the sport he loved. In doing so, he was able to play an entire little league season. Experiences like this taught Duncan something about autism.
“Autism is not a disability, it’s a disadvantage,” Duncan said.
In 2012, Duncan returned to play slow pitch softball which inspired him to go on to coach in a men’s recreational league. Through the experience and seeking help from high level players, social skills such as how to communicate with people were lessons learned from the experience, Duncan said.
Through it all, despite having autism he’s been able to pursue his passion, sticking with baseball.
“God’s been opening the doors,” Duncan said. “Every time a bad experience happens, I try my best to learn from it.”
In Alternative Baseball’s second year Duncan is currently getting ready for the biggest fundraiser of the year, which is the “Second Annual All-Star Game.” During this game players with autism will be playing against professional athletes. This event will feature participants from around the nation on November 11 at Mt. Paran North Church Baseball Park in Marietta, Georgia.
The inaugural even last year was a success, Duncan said.
The inaugural event brought together a talented list of people including the following: singer Timothy Miller who sung “God Bless America” and “The National Anthem,” former Major League Baseball athlete of the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals Brian Barton and Bryan Hoover known as “The 38 Year Old Rookie.”
“They (members of Alternative Baseball) got to play against some of the best in the country,” Duncan said. It was “Absolutely amazing.”
This organization is seeking nonprofit status and donations to help support the program. From the fundraiser, Duncan is hoping they get enough funds to purchase more practice equipment, video technology for social media and to buy baseballs. Finding affordable baseballs is a need for this organization who have purchased all baseballs at a local location and have found that going to E-Bay is significantly expensive. A connection with a sponsor to provide baseball’s for organization would help.
Through it all, Duncan is proud of what this organization has already accomplished in 19 months as they continue to grow and get attention from local news outlets spreading awareness.
“It’s amazing. I’m thankful God have provided me with this experience,” Duncan said. “It’s just a God send. It really is.”
By Gino Terrell