Kansas Cannons find avid fans at Arc of Sedgwick County
AUGUSTA, Kansas — Sometimes it’s a love of the game or for the love of a friend.
For Arc of Sedgwick County, it’s both.
The Arc is a non-for-profit program in Sedgwick County that helps those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Those at the Arc have turned themselves into avid Kansas Cannon fans dating themselves back to 2019 when an unknown, shy guy approached them and wanted to help out.
That guy is Hunter LaMunyon, a baseball player who was on the Cannons in 2019.
“It’s funny really,” Kayla Graf, the events coordinator for the Arc, said. “He just showed up and I don’t know how he got our information but he came, he fit right in with us.”
While LaMunyon said he didn’t just show up, he knew it was something he wanted to do.
“I had a friend in high school that used to work there and I had worked with special needs growing up,” LaMunyon said. “I loved the opportunity. You realized it’s more than a job.
“It was a fun summer job. I didn’t have anything I was playing baseball and it was the perfect fit.”
During the Cannons’ last season, LaMunyon had a game and his friends wanted to go, so Graf and her people found out when the Cannons were playing and surprised LaMunyon.
The YAC, Young Adults Cub, made signs, whooped and hollered for LaMunyon, letting him know they were there. A normally timid guy felt at home, like he was back at work and opened up.
“The kids enjoyed It,” Graf said. “They came out with the win that night. So, it’s a good time here.”
LaMunyon isn’t on the Cannons this season but that hasn’t stopped the Arc from coming out to support the Cannons, as they did Thursday night in the first game of a doubleheader at Rodney Wheeler Stadium. Two buses full of the fanatics came out and cheered, wearing Cannons’ apparel. They weren’t shying away from yelling at umpires for potentially missed calls.
It could be a common misconception about those who are at the Arc and getting to baseball games, cheering on their own can help lift some of the misinformation about those with disabilities.
“I don’t think people realize that just because they have a disability, doesn’t mean they are stoppable,” Graf said. “They can do anything we can do. It may take them a little longer but they definitely can do it.”
In Thursday’s group, it was the Camp Pride, a weeklong camp for those 21 and over with disabilities and they were excited about Thursday’s game.
“All day at the pool today, everyone was like ‘I get to go to the baseball game tonight,’” Graf said. “They were excited about this all day.”
It’s one of the many activities Graf and others have organized for everyone. There is a Miss-Unstoppable pageant for the ladies among the many activities. They have spaghetti fights with sauces and noodles, which sounds amazing to some, to their maple syrup slides.
“They’re a really fun group,” Graf said. “I’ll be honest with you, they are all my best friends.”
“What they taught me is that there are so much bigger things than a baseball game,” He said. “It put things into perspective for me when I was there.”
It didn’t matter on Thursday if the Cannons won the game because in the grand scheme of things, they are winning in the community and touching those beyond baseball.
LeMunyon now is in graduate school at Wichita State after finishing his playing days at Pittsburg State and said he will never forget his time at the Arc and the support they showed him while he played.
“Having all of them in my life that summer is the biggest compliment I could ever have,” he said. “I think everyone should spend a summer there, volunteering for a week because what they [the Arc] does for those kids, it’s really amazing.”
Graf, who usually only does this for the summer, routinely shows up if they need someone. It’s not a care in the world to do it and she doesn’t flinch.
"As I said before, these guys are my best friends," she said. "This is my home."
If you would like more information on how you can contribute to the Arc of Sedgwick County, you can visit https://arc-sedgwickcounty.org/index.php/contact-us/ for more information.