DANSVILLE — SUN-day (or SON-day for the faithful) lived up to its name as the annual Dogwood Festival in Dansville came to a close on May 18.

There was sunshine in more ways than one as the fourth annual “Filling a Diamond With Dreams” Sunshine Softball game unfolded at the Little League park on Knox Street. Not only was a nice crowd bathed in the rays of old “Sol,” but the real warmth came from the smiles on the faces of 25 special athletes who were championed again on this day.

Having had the pleasure of announcing the game, each year I feel the same: tearful and thankful. It’s amazing how the love of God moves people in so many ways. Let alone the people like Jenny Brushafer and her cracker jack staff who care to remain anonymous, to people who sponsor, buddy-up, cook, volunteer, umpire and even simply attend these emotion-filled games.

It’s thrilling to see such an event come together that truly is all about the kids. I think I can safely say that I speak for countless others who are pleased as punch to help out in any way possible joyfully. What a reward it is to see these youngsters have a day at the ballpark all their own.

I’ve had the pleasure of being at churches early those mornings and seeing some of these athletes come to worship with their game uniforms already on. These young people greatly look forward to this as well.

The good feeling generated by this is simply unbelievable It makes you ask, “Why can’t we find this much joy in every other day of our lives?”

There just seems to be something special about this game, maybe because it pleases the Lord in so many ways. For one, it lifts up and champions these special athletes, something we should all do on a regular basis: uplifting the lowly. What a privilege it is to be part of such an event.

The game itself saw the players line up on the foul lines as they were each introduced wearing their own personalized shirts for the game. Dansville school songstress Sabrina Curtis graced us with her lovely singing of the national anthem while the American Legion Honor Guard presented the colors.

Mustang graduate and now head coach of the Hornell Dodgers Tom Kenney threw out the ceremonial first pitch to catcher Tyler Heiman for the game. Mascots “Cutter” and “Slider” gave the atmosphere that professional feel by their presence on the sidelines.

Hats off to the Dansville varsity softball and baseball teams who “buddied up” one-on-one with each special athlete. Home plate umpire Jim McLaughlin had plenty of help as Doctors Richard Cherkis, Albert Jones and Megan Carmel from Unity OB/GYN at Clinton Crossings assisted on the bases.

Jim McMahon provided some ballpark music between innings, while the R.I.T. Tigers baby dolls tossed free Dansville swag to the crowd while sisters Jessica and Emily Clark gave their vocal support.

The fire department escorted “Cutter” and “Slider” in and team pictures were taken as each player received a commemorative hat and personalized T-shirt. This year’s team colors were florescent orange and green. There was also a special team cheer high-five line-up, and trophy presentation following the game.

The contest wound up in a 33-33 tie as each player batted and managed to score a run in each of the three innings of play. They key being, that “everybody wins,” which we all did, just by being there.

Congratulations to the players and coaches of both teams, first of all for the visiting green team: Christian Young, Kaleb Kenney, Tyler Garrison, Kristen Guyett, Elizabeth Rex, Ashlee Acomb, Zachary Garrison, Julia Lockhart, Somer Sparks, Lucas Young, Tara McLoud, and Kaleigh Miller, along with coaches Ken Mountzouros and Patty Rose.

On the home side for the orange team, congratulations to Raymond Young, Sarah Brushafer, Tory Westfall, Patrick Clarke, Jarred Woodworth, Desinee Woodworth, Jesse Cronk, Julius Burchard, Auron Bennett, John Paul Brushafer, Miranda Rowley-Stephens, Emily Brushafer and Tyler Heiman, along with coaches Heather Pero and Sean Race.

I guess the greatest reward we reap from such a significant event in the lives of these dear children is the fact there was something deeper, much deeper, going on in addition to the players hitting the ball and running the bases. It’s called the gift of true love which invigorates us, motivates us, and more often than not overwhelms us.

God’s blessings are indeed, many. Amen.