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ESPN Zone Game Day Debut: A Volunteer’s Perspective
July 1, 2013 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
By: Joanne Lui
The smiles were wide and the cheers loud at the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney on July 1st, as the Pujols Family Foundation hosted a large group of kids and teens with Down syndrome for its first-ever Game Day Debut event.
About 200 kids and adults attended the party. The kids, many of them sporting Angels gear, showed up ready to play free, unlimited games. The group had the entire arcade area to themselves as they shot hoops, raced cars and played air hockey. They also enjoyed a buffet and sundae bar.
Many of the families there already knew each other, but weren’t as familiar with the Pujols Family Foundation. Game Day Debut was the first major event put on by the Pujols Family Foundation for the Down syndrome community in Southern California.
Some families weren’t aware of the work that PFF does for children with Down syndrome. They were excited to hear that this would be the first of many events the foundation plans to put on.
The night was a chance for parents to be introduced to and connect with Albert and Deidre Pujols. They attended the event with their daughter, Bella, who has Down syndrome.
There were tears in the eyes of many in the room as Deidre talked about Bella, and the blessing that she has been, not only to the Pujols family, but to countless others as well. Deidre said that she believes God gave Bella to her for that very reason – because of Bella, the foundation has made it their mission to reach children with Down syndrome and their families.
Albert signed autographs, posed for photos and played games, while Deidre chatted with parents who were there. One girl waited patiently to say hello to Albert. “She just wants to give him a hug and tell him ‘thank you,’” her mother said.
The kids played well into the night, with each other and with members of the PFF staff.
Cheerful good-byes were exchanged at the end of the evening – the families may not have known about the Pujols Family Foundation when they arrived, but when all was said and done, everyone parted like old friends.