DUNEDIN — Thanks to the Dunedin Blue Jays and a Tarpon Springs-based nonprofit, 5-year-old Bradley Kistner had one special Saturday evening last weekend. Bradley, who was born with cerebral palsy and spina bifida, took to the turf at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and made his minor-league debut by throwing out the night’s first pitch. According to a press release from the nonprofit organization Wheelchairs 4 Kids, Bradley, who uses to a motorized wheelchair to get around, had been practicing tirelessly for Saturday. He even surprised all his family and friends by displaying an ability to throw overhand from his chair to a distance of over 8 feet. After firing in the first pitch to Blue Jays shortstop Peter Mooney on a night officially dubbed “A Wheely Fun Night with the Blue Jays,” Bradley was joined on the field by other kids involved with the nonprofit group for the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Bradley is described as a “spunky 5-year-old with a great spirit” by Wheelchairs 4 Kids Executive Director Madeline Robinson. The organization helped Bradley’s family obtain a wheelchair carrier for their van to transport his power chair. Prior to receiving the lift, Robinson wrote, the family had to leave the power chair at school and the child would struggle to operate and maneuver his manual chair at home. Getting physically disabled children and their families the proper chairs and equipment they need, and at no charge, is the mission of Wheelchairs 4 Kids. The organization is at 1976 S. Pinellas Ave., Tarpon Springs, and can be reached at (727) 946-0963 or by going to www.wheelchairs4kids.org.