It’s been five years since the Boston Marathon Bombing caused feelings of grief, fear, and sorrow to the hearts of many. But for members of Savin Hill Little League in Massachusetts, that tragedy became a source of inspiration behind the smile, hope, and kindness of one young boy.
Eight-year-old Martin Richard was one of the many that were tragically killed during the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, but his legacy will forever live on at Savin Hill Little League in Dorchester, Mass.
Established in memory of Martin and his love for the game of baseball, the Martin Richard Challenger Division at Savin Hill Little League is a program for individuals with physical or intellectual challenges, helping them to enjoy the full benefits of Little League participation in an athletic environment structured to their abilities.
“The Challenger Division is a part of our league that allows kids with any sort of disability to play baseball,” said Patrick Ryan, Vice President of Savin Hill Little League. “It’s thanks to Martin’s legacy that every kid of every ability now has the opportunity to play. If you lived until you were a hundred years old, that would be an amazing impact. He was eight, and this is his legacy.”
More than just the skills of baseball learned through the experience, the Martin Richard Challenger Division provides therapeutic and socialization benefits of participating in sports, the strengthening of participants’ self-esteem, the opportunities to mainstream into other divisions of play, and the disciplines of teamwork, sportsmanship, and fair play, which are hallmarks of the Little League program.
“Having something like that named after our son is difficult, but it’s really heartwarming as well,” said Bill Richard, Martin’s father. “It’s really great to see people in the community get behind such a wonderful cause.”
Martin’s view on life was always one of inclusion and kindness and those views were never more clear than just days after his death, when a photo of him holding a handmade poster reading “No more hurting people. Peace,” made its way in front of the eyes of millions.
“Martin just saw beyond the surface and would learn about things in school,” said Mr. Richard. “He was a young kid. He wasn’t lobbying for world peace, yet, but in his own way through kind gestures and fair play, he was doing the little things to make a difference and that’s what we try and teach the kids here.”
While Martin will never be able to step out onto the field with the Savin Hill Little League community, his legacy will forever remain ingrained in the hearts of every player that will take the field.
“When you go out on the field at Savin Hill Little League, Martin’s number is retired, number eight,” said Brendan McDonough, Commissioner of Savin Hill Challenger Division. “The legacy and advancement of Martin’s mission and beliefs are continuing, and will continue forever.”