Like Father, Like Daughter

One of life’s rewarding experiences is finally coming my way at this late stage in life. One of my children is actually following in my footsteps in a couple of unanticipated ways.

My adult daughter is now playing baseball, my favorite childhood sport, even though she had shown no prior interest for it when she was young. The cause for this epiphany about the merits of America’s past time has little to do with me and everything to do with her employment. She is on the staff of a company called Life Styles, which serves a special adult community, whose members have developmental challenges of various kinds.

Apparently softball is a popular activity for them and my daughter, by virtue of her place on staff, is the manager for one of their teams. She doesn’t know the rules of the game and has little natural aptitude for the art of catching, throwing and hitting an orb of any size. Her childhood interest was always firmly rooted in the care and maintenance of horses. Still, she’s game to be a manager-player and mix it up with a unique collection of people, who find it pure joy in swinging a bat, running the bases and touching home plate, even if no one is officially keeping score. It is simply the love of the game that puts a little swagger in their step whenever they take the field.

My daughter knows that I spent time coaching her older brother in how to play the game. He had a bat, ball and glove not long after he learned to walk. And at dad’s insistence he learned to use them to the extent that I started talking to him about a professional career before he graduated from grade school. Somewhere along the line he developed other interests, which meant that all of his baseball paraphernalia found their way to the back of his closet, permanently. This fact prompted my daughter to observe all these years later that “You taught the wrong kid.”

O well. Such is the plight of being a parent. You never really know how your best of intentions will turn out as your children’s independence quotient comes into play in their lives. I have a second chance, though, since my daughter is following in my footsteps in a different endeavor, one I am adept at and can coach in lieu of never having taught her to cope with the curve.

She is in the process of establishing a non-profit organization, which I know something about since it is how I made a living all those years that I was neglecting her athletic education. To be honest, I did do a lot of chauffeuring when she was little, ferrying her and her four-legged charges to various equestrian competitions. Although I never really progressed beyond knowing a horse’s head from its tail, the fact that I came to appreciate my daughter’s aptitude for horse sense prompted me to encourage her to develop her knowledge and skills in pursuit of whatever dream might come from it.

The result is a new non-profit, incorporated earlier this year, where she lives in Arkansas. If interested, you can learn more about it by visiting www.gaitways.org. I had a part in helping to file the application with the state to obtain corporate status and then the one sent to the IRS to gain their much needed recognition for gait Ways as a public charity. This will allow my daughter to acknowledge all donations as tax-deductible gifts in support of her mission. And that mission brings us back to those special folks, who are an integral part of her baseball team.

My daughter’s vision is to partner the horses she has rescued with the special needs adults under her care. Since Life Styles is about helping people become contributing members to their respective communities, my daughter’s goal is to partner her horses, who have a natural instinct for being participants in a safe community of their own (aka herd), with their human counterparts in pursuit of building relationships based on trust. The skills and confidence gained from this unusual collaboration will last a lifetime for all involved.

It also has allowed my daughter to assume the mantel of being an executive director of this new non-profit organization. And that allows me to take credit for an assist, just as if I had hit a sacrifice fly into deep right field in order to advance the runner to the next available base.

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