LIMA — Rachael and Cameron Staley, of Lima, are the voice for area disabled children and their families. They are 2018 Jefferson Award winners. The couple have been instrumental in the formation of the Abilities Baseball League, the construction of a ball diamond for the Abilities Baseball League and the “Night to Shine” prom for students with special needs.
“Since 2007, Rachael and Cam were married, they have worked hand in hand with the same goal, to make this the best program for these kids. Rachael and Cameron’s heart is with the Special Needs community and have touched many lives through this program,” said Tom and Dottie Chapman, nominators.
Rachael is employed by the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Her husband, Cameron, is a teacher and coach at Allen East Local Schools. They have three children ages seven, five and three.
Rachael developed the Abilities Baseball League when she was a senior at Bluffton College and while interning at the Children’s Development Center in Lima.
“I really just saw, in looking programs, it stops in the summer months. There’s not much going on for them. There’s not a baseball league for these kids. Lima City Parks were gracious to open up two of the diamonds for us on a Sunday night. I had no idea really where it would go after that. That first year we had about 52 kids that came out and played on that Sunday night and it’s been going on ever since,” said Rachael.
Cameron Staley was a volunteer at the first game and they’ve been together ever since.
Currently there are roughly 100 to 112 kids that take part in the Abilities Baseball League. This summer the kids will be playing on their own field at UNOH.
The couple truly have a heart for the kids and the parents of the kids. One night Cameron was scrolling on Facebook when he saw information on “A Night to Shine,” through the Tim Tebow Foundation. He contacted his pastor at the time, Randy Davis asking him about getting on-board with it. Davis told Cameron to write the letter.
“We were the last church that year to be approved,” said Cameron.
Neither the Abilities Baseball League nor A Night To Shine lack volunteers.
“Every year we’ve done A Night to Shine we’ve had more than 200 volunteers from our church and the community. We’ve had over 100 ONU students volunteer to be dates for all these kids, we’ve had a class from Rhodes State College volunteer to be dates too, ” said Cameron.
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.