NewsPositively Hampton Roads


People Taking Action: Local coaches surprised for helping student gain wheelchair access to baseball field!

Posted at 8:37 PM, Jun 11, 2019

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -  Back in the hallways of her old school Kempsville High, former student Maddy Beardsley is a little nervous as she's helping us surprise some people very special to her - three people, to be exact.

So, part of the trick was trying to coordinate that and required the help of Principal Melissa George.

"There's a lot that's involved. There are a lot of moving parts to this, but it's well worth the time to make sure everyone is recognized for their good work."

Soon, the principal gets word all the key players are in place - so we're off to the gym to find varsity baseball coach Travis Sutton and his two assistant coaches, Zach Wolff and Austin Benda.

The reason Maddy wrote to News 3 about them is to thank them for a paved path leading from the school's parking lot to the school baseball field. When she first started as the team's baseball manager, it was just a dirt path.

And since Maddy uses a wheelchair, if it rained - even if only before a game - that would keep her from showing up. Coach Sutton didn't know why at first.

"She was like, 'I have to pay attention to the weather.' And I'm like, 'Well, it was good weather or we wouldn't be playing baseball,' and she was like, 'Not for my wheelchair.' And it was like dagger to the heart. It just never really occurred to me, so she kinda woke us up a little bit and we were like, 'What can we do?'"

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So, the coach and his staff got the ball rolling, made some calls and eventually with the help of the Americans with Disabilities Act, secured funding to pick up the tab for paving a walkway from the parking lot to the dugout. And even though she's no longer a student, Maddy wanted to give them recognition.

"I can't thank them enough! It would be wonderful if WTKR 3 could help me thank them," Maddy wrote in her email.

And because of that, News 3 presented the three coaches with a People Taking Action award and a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner, Southern Bank.

All three coaches were thankful, but as Coach Sutton pointed out, "It's not about us; we're just grateful to have her in our lives."

But it meant so much to Maddy that she felt she had to publicly thank them - even though she's no longer a student.

"It was just so important for me, even though it's a couple years late, still to thank them and I'm so very grateful and my family is grateful for everything they did for me."

Do you know someone who's worthy of a People Taking Action award? Click here to nominate them!