LAKEWOOD, Colo. — For Rockies pitchers Kyle Freeland and Lucas Gilbreath, stepping onto a Colorado baseball field on a Thursday in the summer, feels like just another day at the ballpark.
For the Special Olympics athletes they're working with, it's a fantasy realized.
"For me, it's just giving everyone an opportunity to play the game that myself, Kyle, and even the coaches love so much," Gilbreath said. "I think baseball is such a great game, and softball as well, to where everyone can have an opportunity to play. Just being able to give back and show some of these kids some of the things we've learned and allow them to play the same game we do, has been awesome."
The Rockies teamed up with Special Olympics Colorado to host a fantasy camp for athletes with intellectual disabilities. From the looks on everyone's faces, it's hard to tell who enjoyed the day more.
"For me, being able to watch these kids and watch some of the windups, some of the throws, some of the things, it's been fun to watch," Gilbreath said. "It's been funny at times to see some of the creative windups and different things people are trying to do and it's just been awesome for me to be able to see that."
Freeland, who pitched underhand at the hitting and baserunning station, got to see the full gamut of emotions.
"Seeing the joy on their faces when they make contact with the ball when they get a hit, when they get to run the bases, you just see their faces light up," he said. "It's a ton of fun to be a part of that and to know that you're helping with that joy."
Also helping to spread that joy were the hurlers' other halves. Ashley Freeland, Kyle's wife, felt right at home.
"That's her, she's always there to help people out, regardless of who it is," Kyle said about her. "She's been doing stuff with Special Olympics in different cities for a very long time going back to college, so this is right at home for her. So for her to be able to reach out and help these kids and athletes in any way possible, she's there for it."
Kelsey Gilbreath was also more than eager to step into any role she was assigned.
"My wife loves to be out here, and for her to want to come out here and help me is just awesome," Lucas said of his wife. "Just to have the opportunity to be out here together and come to give back to the community, is something that I love to do and I know she loves to do."
As two homegrown Coloradans, both Freeland and Gilbreath relish the opportunity to give back to their own community.
"Being from Colorado, growing up a Rockies fan, and then obviously being with the Rockies now and seeing how much they do for the community and how much they do for different groups, has been awesome," said Gilbreath, a Legacy High School grad.
Both Kyle and Kelsey Freeland have been donating their time and efforts with Special Olympics Colorado for six years. Kyle said the event was extra special for the two of them.
"When we heard word that [The Rockies] were going to do Special Olympics Colorado for their Charity Night, we were over the moon and extremely happy," he said. "We've been working with them for so long and to have them be a part of the Rockies family now, and to be able to contribute so much to their program and what they do, it's very special that we get to be a part of it."
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