TASK, Team Activities for Special Kids, made headlines last week when the director of "The Sandlot," David Mickey Evans, and Patrick Renna, who played Ham in "The Sandlot," showed up to help dedicate the facility's new ball field.
Among other dignitaries, Evans and Renna were joined by Michael Hall, executive director of Cardinals Care, and Jack Donovan, general manager of Fox Sports Midwest. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of "The Sandlot," the organizations teamed up to raise funds to renovate a local sandlot, in this case the ball fields at TASK.
TASK provides athletic and social opportunities for children with special needs. In addition to year-round sports programs, TASK also offers summer camps and social groups. About 1,000 participants take advantage of TASK activities each year, said Deb Fruend, founder and executive director of TASK.
"[Renna and Evans] were so great with the kids! One coached each team, and we had a tee ball game afterwards," Fruend said.
The ball field dedication marks one of several improvements that the nonprofit youth organization has been able to make since moving into their new facility in February 2012, Fruend said. Now located at 980 Horan Drive in Fenton, TASK has more than 11 acres of outdoor space and a large indoor hall (formerly the union hall for the local United Auto Workers of America).
TASK has recently completed a putting green, and is close to finishing its soccer field. They are currently looking for partners to assist them with fundraising and planning an accessible playground, Fruend said.
Inside, the organization has completed a kitchen renovation and has installed a life skills lab, offering space for kids to learn and practice doing a variety of household skills like vaccuuming, putting sheets on a bed and doing laundry. The facility also has a first aid center, and they're finishing up a sensory room, Fruend said. In the future, Fruend would like to see the main union hall, a large multipurpose room, be transformed into basketball courts and a dance and drama studio. "We'd love to have a two lane walking track around the top," she said. "We have a lot of kids with excessive energy, and it's a neat way to watch what's going on and to get rid of the energy without running around the event on the floor."
Fruend launched TASK in 1996. The former physical education teacher for Special School District, saw a need to help children with special needs build self-esteem and confidence through sports. Prior to purchasing their own facility, TASK programs were held all over the St. Louis area. The new facility has allowed the organization to expand its programming and serve more kids.
For more information about TASK programs or for teen volunteer opportunities, visit their website at www.tasksports.org.