STEUBENVILLE-Special needs students at the School of Bright Promise will make friends as a longtime program returns with new partners on Thursday.

The school will host Fall Out with the Barons Day on Oct. 31 and 28 members of the Franciscan University Barons
baseball team plus a half-dozen softball players will visit the site from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to spend time with the estimated 80 children. The athletes will work with students in their classrooms during the morning, have lunch with them and enjoy more interaction that afternoon.

Coach Richard Carver began the collaboration six years ago while heading the Bethany Bison team and said it forged a friendship unlike any other between the athletes and students. Now he hopes to continue the bond with the Barons.

“I never planned on stopping it, but my decision to change jobs made it impractical to do it last year since there was no team here at the time,” he explained. “I missed not coming over to see those kids.”

He and the teammates are excited to visit and take part in the festivities, which also ties into the school’s Halloween
celebration featuring students in costumes. The Barons plan to provide candy, some music and even a little surprise.

“Originally, it was set up to have the kids meet my team and for our guys to appreciate all of the gifts and opportunities they have been given, but it has grown into much more. Now, there is a mutual friendship between Bright Promise kids and our players and we, the coaches and players, have learned to make the best of every day no matter what challenges we face,” Carver continued. “We have learned so much from them. Aside from having a fun day and putting smiles on kids’ faces who truly appreciate our presence, I think there is an understanding that while we come from different backgrounds, we are equally special in God’s eyes. We love those kids. We have the utmost respect and admiration for the faculty and staff at Bright Promise and it is a pleasure to assist them. We just love those kids.”

School of Bright Promise Principal Jane Bodo said she and her students were equally eager for the visit and she believes it will lead to something amazing.

“I’m excited to start a new partnership with Franciscan University and rekindle an old partnership with Coach Carver,” Bodo said. “I look forward to introducing our school to a whole new set of athletes and hope they can learn as much from us as we can learn from them.”