DALLAS TWP. — A walk turned into a skip and then an all-out run as Brian Tomaszewski rounded the bases at the Back Mountain Little League field.
He had just hit a softball from a tee and it took a moment or two for him to pick up speed as a Dallas High School girls softball player kept pace with him.
Under the direction of their coach, Jennifer Yanuskavich, a special-education teacher in the district, the players held the second annual autism awareness event and invited Tomaszewski, 16, his younger brother, Brian, 14, and others students that she has taught.
David and Donna Tomaszewski of Trucksville watched as their sons laughed and grinned running the base path.
The students posed for photographs and each received a signed softball from the Dallas team before the start of a league game with Lake-Lehman on Sunday night.
“The more typical things they do, the more typical their lives are,” David Tomaszewski said.
The program, held on Mother’s Day so families could attend, offered the students the opportunity to participate with the players who, in turn, benefited from the interaction with the autistic children.
Yanuskavich, in the spirit of giving back to the community, came up with the idea and the Misericordia University graduate credited her players with taking the lead. They researched autism by reading up on it and watching a video, made posters and spoke about their experience before the game.
“I just suggested it and they ran away with it,” Yanuskavich said.
Junior Abby Berger said she enjoyed the program.
“It’s nice to see them smile,” she said.
Money raised through the sale of T-shirts, magnets, refreshments and a raffle benefited the special-education department at Dallas.