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Participating in sports provides opportunities to learn valuable lessons. Through organized sports, young athletes learn to be part of a team, stay committed and push their limits. Recently, patients from Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH) and Shriners Hospital for Children learned there are no limits to what they can do.

The annual No Limits Baseball and Softball Camps, hosted by Shriners, was a little different this year. With their recent move to the University of Kentucky medical campus on South Limestone, Shriners needed a new venue for their event; UK Athletics offered Cliff Hagan Stadium and John Cropp Stadium and some help from the members of the UK Baseball and UK Softball teams including head coaches Rachel Lawson and Nick Mingione.

Throughout the day patients had a chance to practice and develop their baseball or softball skills with drills in batting, catching, throwing and nutrition. A member of UK Baseball or UK Softball accompanied their “buddy” to each of the stations to help them one-on-one.

JP David, who has participated in the No Limits Camp in previous years, was able to get in on the fun once again. For 12 years, David has been seeing physicians at Shriners and KCH to receive care for cerebral palsy. David’s mother accompanied him to the camp, as she’s done in previous years. She appreciates that Shriners give patients the opportunity to have typical childhood experiences, especially when their health can sometimes prevent them from creating those memories. “He would love to just keep going but his body won’t let him," she said. "But when they host events like this; he realizes he’s not the only one and he feels like a normal kid.”

For the first time, patients at KCH were also invited to participate in the camps. Jaxon Russell, who is no stranger to UK Baseball, was glad to be back at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Russell has undergone two open heart surgeries in the first five years of his life. He is also being treated for pulmonary atresia. Baseball is important to the Russell family, after Jaxon’s diagnosis his parents, Shannon and Miranda, founded a nonprofit organization that helps other children diagnosed with heart conditions enjoy the sport. They were excited to spend the afternoon with members of their favorite baseball team. “For a program like this to take time out of their days to make these kids smile and have a memorable moment is tremendous," she said. "It’s something that they’ll never forget.”

Illness can often take away the opportunity for young patients to have the same experiences as other children or their siblings. Sometimes things that happen outside of a clinical setting can be incredibly beneficial for health and wellness, said Dr. Scottie Day, physician-in-chief at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, “The opportunity for a child to attend this camp gives them an experience that proves to have a long-lasting effect on psychosocial development, including self-esteem, peer relationships, independence, leadership, values and willingness to try new things.”