Athletes Helping Athletes brings sports to disabled Pelham youth


Pelham varsity baseball team helps coach Daniel.

When then eight-year-old Madison Schneider saw her friend Daniel unable to play Pelham sports due to his disability, she immediately saw how unfair it was. The two are only six months apart and grew up across the street from each other.

“We had a playdate and his mom said that he wanted a Pelham sports shirt,” said Schneider. “We asked her why he didn’t have anything, and she explained that he wasn’t allowed to participate in Pelham sports because he was on the spectrum. My mom watched me come down the stairs with a paper and pencil, and I knew I needed to make a change because it wasn’t fair.”

Schneider knew she needed to find a way to connect Daniel with others in his community through recreation, so Athletes Helping Athletes was born.

“We started in 2016,” said Schneider. “We’ve held multiple events in previous years, soccer, baseball and basketball in alignment with each season.”

The organization has had a great impact on Daniel and other disabled children in the community by providing them with an ability to participate in recreational activities with other athletes.

“When Covid-19 hit everything slowed down,” said Schneider.

Pelham parents came together to help Athletes Helping Athletes get back on its feet this year.

“Mrs. McGovern and Mr. Leak helped organize events and got the varsity baseball team to volunteer with us,” said Schneider. “The varsity team organized the drills we were doing, like throwing and hitting the ball. We organized one big baseball game at the end where everyone played together. The kids were so excited and happy to be there playing. It’s very inspirational to be there. Everyone is just happy to be there socializing.”

Schneider’s efforts have paid off, and Daniel, among others, have found ways to connect with children in the community by playing the sports he always wanted to play. Schneider wishes to send a message to all of Pelham and other communities through her Athletes Helping Athletes organization. Schneider’s goal was always to find a place for disabled kids to connect with others.

“I want Pelham to be as inclusive as possible and make sure that (disabled children) get equal opportunities that all other people in Pelham do, have an opportunity to hang out with people their age and have fun,” said Schneider. “It’s so inspiring that I had this one small idea that can make an impact on people’s lives. It’s so fun to be there and the smiles you see on peoples’ faces make all the hard work worth it.”

But she’s not done yet, Schneider plans on hosting more events for disabled children in the Pelham community to build friendships through sports.

“We’re starting to plan soccer for the fall, which will hopefully have both the girls and boys varsity teams involved,” said Schneider. “We’re also trying to get sleds for kids that cannot walk can still participate on the ice. My friend who I started this for, Daniel, plays ice hockey, so I want him to be able to be involved. The first sport we did was soccer, which is my passion, so I want to do a sport that he is passionate about as well.”