Garry (Gaz) Burnside, 2008 Australian Special Olympics gold medallist and member of the Central Bears Softball Club Special Olympics (SO Bears) team who participate in the Southern Tasmanian Softball Association competition, recently lost his mother in the week leading up to the annual club dinner.
Gaz had been feeling a bit down and decided not to attend the dinner. Now, the SO Bears Softball team are like one big family and so, Trish, his coach for many years, came up with the idea of doing a backyard makeover for him without his knowledge.
After taking up a collection at the club dinner Trish set about planning and scheming to have her husband, Rob and daughter, Sarah take Gaz out for the day so that the Bears could wave their magic wand and transform his yard.
Local business Tree Dynamix matched the amount raised and organised loam and woodchips to be delivered to the vacant land at the back of Gaz’s unit. One of their managers drove out to check the area to make sure the trucks could get in and looked up to see Gaz watching him from an upstairs window so he had to pretend he was looking at power poles!
The woodchips were delivered on Friday but when Rob called to pick him up on Saturday, Gaz wanted to ring the council to complain that someone had left all these woodchips right outside his back fence. A quickly made up story put a stop to that.
The Southern Tasmanian Softball Association chipped in and provided lunch for the 17 members while they waved more than a wand, with shovels, rakes, picks, hammers and paintbrushes going in all directions.
Late afternoon came, time was running out and Rob had run out of places to take Gaz.
After a long, enjoyable day with lots of laughs, as with all good makeovers, the transformation was completed with minutes to spare and Gaz appeared through his back door.
All would agree that any aches and pains from the work were well worth the look on his face and his genuine appreciation. After many “I don’t know what to say” statements, Gaz set about giving all 17 workers a big hug.
And that is what makes softball such a great FAMILY sport.