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Swinging for the fences: Disability doesn’t stop Northshore resident

Logan Powell, 8, swings his bat during a game at the Louisville Slugger Stadium in Kentucky. Powell was accepted to be a part of a camp called Wounded Warriors for disabled athletes.   - Sarah Kehoe, Bothell Reporter
Logan Powell, 8, swings his bat during a game at the Louisville Slugger Stadium in Kentucky. Powell was accepted to be a part of a camp called Wounded Warriors for disabled athletes.
— image credit: Sarah Kehoe, Bothell Reporter

Nothing stops Bothell resident Logan Powell, 8, from doing what he wants to do.

“I don’t let fear of failing or anything keep me from going after what I want,” Powell said.

Powell’s left leg was amputated when he was 11 months old after a disease threatened his life. Powell wears a prosthetic and plays all the sports he loves, including softball, hockey, basketball and golf.

Powell was accepted to travel to Kentucky to play with the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (WWAST) at Lousiville Slugger Stadium. The WWAST is a charitable organization whose mission is to raise awareness, educate the public on the strength and resiliency of America’s wounded warriors. The team was created in March, 2011 and is comprised of veteran and active-duty military who lost limbs while serving in the military.

Children with missing limbs can apply to be considered for the kids camp, hosted every summer in Kentucky. Powell was one of 20 children selected to be a part of the camp this year.

“It was awesome and so much fun,” Powell said. “I really liked hanging out with everyone there and just learning how to hit and throw better.”

The camp consisted of daily clinics during which WWAST players and coaches taught the kids all aspects of softball, from hitting, running and catching, to team-play and sportsmanship. While the clinics will cover the basics, these are no ordinary lessons.

“Since we started touring in 2011, we’ve been inviting young, local amputees to serve as batboys and batgirls at our games across the country,” WWAST coach David Van Sleet said. “You wouldn’t believe the positive impact a single game can make on them. To have a full five days to work with and inspire these kids – kids who are at such an impressionable age – is one of the most amazing opportunities we could have asked for.”

Van Sleet says the team has a unique style of play, a creative adaptation the wounded veterans had to make in order to continue playing softball. Campers learned from seasoned WWAST players like Greg Reynolds, a left-arm amputee who learned how to catch one-handed a pop-fly, toss off his glove and throw the ball home in one fluid motion, or from Josh Wege, a double-amputee, who can chase down a grounder on two prosthetic legs.

“Suffering a life-altering injury is traumatic and scary, there’s no doubt about that,” Van Sleet said. “But it’s our mission to show people that life-altering doesn’t have to mean life-ending. It’s still possible to follow your passions after an injury. You just have to take a different approach. And that’s what our guys are here to teach these kids.”

In addition to softball instruction, Powell and his dad Brad Powell visited the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory and Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, as well as other Louisville attractions like the Muhammad Ali Center and Kentucky Kingdom.

“It was so cool for me, as a parent, to talk to other parents from around the country who had a child that was going through the same struggles as Logan,” Brad said. “It felt very family-oriented; everyone was in the same boat and very supportive of one another.”

Logan said there were many activities planned out for him every day, including practices and going to a water park.

“Logan and the other kids there were treated like royalty,” Brad said. “It was great to see.”

Logan hopes to continue his athletics into high school and become a professional baseball player someday.

“It’s my favorite sport and I want to keep doing it as long as possible,” Logan said, smiling.

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