Home Runs for Special Olympics
From the moment Michael Roberts met seven-year-old Samantha Bode, the two immediately made a special connection.
That bond is a major reason Roberts choose Bode and the Surry County Special Olympics to focus his fundraising efforts as he prepares to take part in the 13th Annual World Power Showcase Home Run Derby in Miami at Marlins Park from Dec. 27-31.
Finishing second in the nation in the JUCO ranks with 14 home runs as a freshman, Roberts went on to be the named the Region X Player of the Year and he was one of just six freshmen named First-Team All-American in 2018. Those prolific power numbers caught the attention of the Power Showcase, which personally selects players based on their abilities, power, scout references, school and showcase tournament performances.
“I was really excited, but also a little nervous,” Roberts said of his reaction to the invite.
Roberts will proudly represent his home state of North Carolina during the prestigious Home Run Derby that will feature top amateur power hitting prospects from around the world. But as excited as he is about the home run derby, Roberts is just as enthused to be a part of the Power Showcase’s philanthropic arm, called the “Home Runs that Help.”
As an Education Major with a love for children, the Surry Central High School alum hopes to pursue a career in coaching and teaching, particularly in the special education field. As a young student at Dobson Elementary School, Roberts knew Samantha’s mother, Stephanie Bode, who has served at the media specialist there for the past 20 years. Once Michael found out Sam loved to be involved in Special Olympics, he knew that’s where he wanted his fundraising focus to be.
“I’ve always had a thing for special ed children, always cared a lot about them,” Roberts said. “So when this opportunity came up, I wanted to do something to help them.”
From the first day of Samantha Bode’s life, she had to overcome several obstacles. In her short seven years, she has been diagnosed with several disabilities, including Dandy Walker malformation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hydrocephalus and scoliosis. Samantha and her family feel so blessed that Sam has been able to accomplish so much, such as being able to walk with her walker. Sam has not allowed her many disabilities to stop her from enjoying each and every day. One thing that Sam really enjoys is participating in Special Olympics. Being able to participate in Special Olympics has allowed Sam to see that she is not so different from others after all.
Stephanie Bode said Roberts’ family has kept up with Samantha’s story through the years and have continued to pray for them. But aside from that, Roberts said he didn’t know young Samantha well from a personal standpoint. That changed dramatically when the two met up for a photoshoot for a flyer about the home run derby and fundraising effort.
“We met at the ballfield and took some pictures and you could just tell he cared a lot about her from the beginning,” Stephanie Bode said. “Just his caring nature and having patience with her, she is a very good judge of who is kind of on her side and in her court. She just took right up with Michael from the beginning, and she is kind of a hard one to get on her side, so it was a big deal she did that. Michael is just a really great guy and that whole family is a great family.”
Please consider making a donation in Michael and Samantha’s honor to the Surry County Special Olympics. Anyone able and willing to help is asked to please make your check payable to the Surry County Special Olympics (with Michael Roberts in the memo section) and mail to: Michael Roberts, 3104 Old Hwy 601, Mount Airy, N.C., 27030. If you would like more information or info on donating via Paypal or Venmo please email: SLAM4SPECIALOLYMPICS@GMAIL.COM
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