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Father’s life-changing invention helps disabled play baseball

Published: May. 8, 2022 at 8:44 PM CDT
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - For many with disabilities, things we take for granted like throwing and catching a ball are much more difficult. However, one local father figured out a way to help his son participate and gain independence on the baseball diamond.

Kayden Schmidt was born with a disorder that limits the motion of his body.

However, on Sunday, Kayden played catch with Miracle League athletes and league executive director Kevin Negaard as a part of his “Wanna Have A Catch?” fundraiser.

How did he do it?

He used the WHAC, a “mechanical arm” created by his father, Dustin Rhoades, that allows him to throw a ball with the push of a button.

This new invention, spelled W-H-A C, is named after Negaard’s year-long campaign, “Wanna Have A Catch?”

It comes on the heels of the Switch Hitter, a similar device Rhoades created and now sells that allows children like Kayden to hit a ball. Rhoades actually used a modified Switch Hitter to create the WHAC.

After seeing Rhoades’ passion for helping his son and others like him, Negaard knew he wanted Kayden to be a part of his fundraiser for the Miracle League.

“When I decided to do this in January, I told Dustin, ‘you’ve got one year to figure this out because I am going to play catch with your son.”

It took less time than that, with Negaard playing catch with Kayden on just his 111th day of the campaign-- a day Negaard said was his best one yet.

“What Dustin’s done is incredible,” said Negaard. “It’s given so many kids a really unique opportunity whose parents said ‘no, my child can’t play,’ or whatever the case may be. And he’s saying ‘no, that’s not the case. Every child can play.’ And so, this is a pretty special day to be able to see a father who is so dedicated to his son and then to other kids like that. So, this probably goes as my top day so far.”

For Rhoades, it’s all about helping his son and other kids like him gain more independence.

“It’s the biggest thing,” said Rhoades. “Because, when you have a child like Kayden, it’s very limited on what he can do. So, just that one extra step of that independence that he gets is just unimaginable.”

Rhoades plans on being able to sell the WHAC throwing devices in time for next year’s baseball season.

As for the “Wanna Have A Catch?” campaign, it is still going on and you can find out how to donate or even play a game of catch here.

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