Every Sunday afternoon, children in Alachua County participate in outdoor activities thanks to the Noah’s Endeavor program. Softball was a common favorite this spring.
The program’s awards picnic took place Sunday at Albert Ray Massey (Westside) Park in Gainesville to celebrate the end of the season.
The Endeavor program was founded by Gainesville resident Will Voelker in 1999 as a way for boys and girls with disabilities to play and make new friends, according to the program’s website.
Over the years, the Endeavor program has grown to include a wide array of disabled and non-disabled participants along with their families and student volunteers. The program changed its name to Noah’s Endeavor in 2009 in memory of Voelker’s son Noah.
Softball isn’t the only sport available. Aquatic sports are an option, in which Will and his wife, Shelly, offer swimming lessons. Other options include basketball, bowling and soccer.
Steve Jackson, whose nephew Brian participates in the program, said he was grateful for the love and affection the kids receive..
“It’s really nice what they do,” he said. “If it wasn’t for them [Will Voelkerand Noah’s Endeavor], these kids would always be overlooked.”
Upcoming events include a music day Sunday at 1 p.m., which will allow Noah’s Endeavor members to play various instruments in the University of Florida’s Music Building.
Ocala Elite became Team Watson when coaches David “Davey” Watson, 38, and Richard Benoit, 63, reunited the group of high school boys to play in support of David’s wife and team “mom” Rachel after she was diagnosed with pneumonia brought on by Covid-19.