GREAT FALLS — Quality Life Concepts is the largest Montana-based provider of developmental disability services, serving about 900 children and adults with special needs. QLC came up with the fun idea to form a softball team: the Desperadoes.
“It kind of just started out as an idea between our staff and our clients,” said Quality Life Concepts PR Director Jen Butler. “They spend a lot of time together. They were saying with the warmer weather out that it would be great to get outside and play some ball, so we signed up to do a community rec league.”
A men’s competitive upper-division baseball team sponsored by the local Roadhouse Diner heard about the Desperadoes and their passion for the game. They offered to do a clinic with the team on the basics of hitting and fielding.
The day was filled with the greatest qualities sports bring to people: laughter, encouragement, sportsmanship and joy. This is essential to the Desperadoes because many of them have never played softball or been on a team before.
“It’s awesome, I’m a fast pitcher, I just like to be around my friends and everything,” said Joseph Evans, a player on the Desperadoes.
“(I love) the people and the staff. It’s awesome, I haven’t played softball for a while and I’m glad that I got a chance to play,” said Amy Keele.
As time went on, the two teams got closer, thanks to the Roadhouse Diner’s teams willing to help out in bringing the delight of playing sports to the community.
“The community support on this has been amazing. I have teams that are laughing and having a good time,” said Desperadoes manager Elizabeth Dowell. “They’re telling us that they took something away from the games. That’s what we want, we want that experience. We want these guys to be out having a good time and get to do the things that everyone else gets to do.”
“All sports are universal, it speaks to a lot of us. There are so many different aspects of sports that help enrich life. I think the opportunity to do this is great,” said Will Garten, an outfielder for the Roadhouse team.
“It’s a pretty good deal for us, we like to bring it out to the community and bring everybody together. It’s a good time, especially spreading the joy with everybody else and getting everybody together. It’s a lot of fun,” said Tim Gurnsey, a third baseman on the Roadhouse team.
A chance to get to play like everyone else, that’s what this team has gotten. Plus, it’s always nice to know that there’s always someone there to lend a helping hand.
“The fact that these guys would give up their weekend where they could be spending their time doing social things or time with family, they would instead spend a Sunday afternoon and share their love of the sport with our folks,” said Butler. “It’s a great feeling to know that there are people out there that want to give their time.”