Contact Information

Contact Information

Jan Brunkhorst
28 Church Street | Suite 2A
Warwick, NY 10990

Phone: 845-986-5944
Fax: 845-988-5005

janb@beautiful-people.us

Paypal Donation

Orange Magazine feature: A conversation with Peter Ladka, founder of Beautiful People, Adaptive Sports For Children With Disabilities

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This Warwick resident talks with Shifa Mahmood about his software business, hiring people with disabilities, and the nonprofit , adaptive sports for children with disabilities.

OM: You have a software company. What is your role in creating software?
PL: I started the business, Parse3, but my role isn’t in developing software anymore. I used to do that, but now I’m running the business side of it. But my company builds business applications on the Web and develops software for other companies.
OM: I heard that all of your employees are Orange County residents.
Yes, I try to provide an alternative to people who don’t want to commute to the city every day.
OM: Usually companies like that don’t hire people with disabilities, but you have.
PL: Well, we hired Tom DeLuca, who is legally blind. He takes visual designs and translates them into HTML code. He does his work with unbelievable accuracy. It’s really very rare that his visual impairment has made it difficult for him. His visual impairment isn’t even an issue.
OM: You began the nonprofit, . Was it because of Tom?
PL: Well, it got started in 2005 when the idea came to me. I was playing T-ball with my daughter in Warwick and I had been thinking about how I could do something in the community. Playing T-ball with my daughter was a lot of fun, and so I thought how cool would it be for kids who have a difficulty or a disability who can’t be in a standard organized league to be able to play. I wanted to get a bunch of kids together and have a game to see how that went.
OM: Kind of like the Miracle League.
PL: Yeah, their organization was kind of an example, a backdrop. We are our own separate organization, but we did franchise some information from the Miracle League. We organized our first game and played in early 2007. I think we had about 40 kids in the first game. County Executive Edward Diana came out to that game, and was interested in helping us out.
OM: So it was a success?
PL: Very much so. And Mr. Diana was supportive. We’ve been using county property for our games up to this point. The county recently informed us that they are going to provide us with some space in Orange County Park to put up a field of our own.
OM: That’s good news..
PL: Definitely. The idea is that families who have children with special needs can come out, and other members of the community can volunteer at the games. So there’s support. Every child is paired up with someone else. Their parents can sit on the sidelines and enjoy the game like any other parent watching their child play at a sporting event.
OM: So you are becoming a part of the Orange County community.
PL: Yes, that‘s where the name came from. The name came from a declaration to these families from the large Orange County community. The message that, “You are beautiful people to us. We want to reach out and be a part of your lives.” People want these families to participate in everyday life. That’s really the root idea of the organization.
OM: How can people sign up to join?
PL: People can go to our web site (beautiful-people.us) and there are forms for players and people who want to volunteer.
OM: Is it mostly people with physical disabilities, or do kids with other disabilities come out, too?
PL: It’s a wide spectrum. There are kids with physical disabilities and a lot of kids who fall in the autism spectrum. There are children with Asperger’s and Down syndrome. We also have someone who has a heart condition so she cannot run. She has to sit in a chair most of the time. So she stands up and hits the ball with the bat and sits back down. Someone else runs the bases for her, but she still enjoys it. She participates.
OM: Everyone is accommodated.
PL: Yes, everyone. No one is excluded. The idea is that anybody who wants to come and play can do it. It doesn’t matter. We just want the child to come and have fun. They partner up with a buddy and concentrate on playing the game, having fun.
OM: Many nonprofits are struggling right now. But you are seeing growth. Are there any difficulties that you have encountered?
PL: Fundraising is always a challenge, even though we’ve only been in it for a couple of years. What I haven’t found a challenge is finding people to be involved. I mean the generosity of the community in wanting to donate their time. It reinforces the idea that is a great cause.
OM: It seems like the organization has tremendous support from people.
PL: Yes, from individuals, the county, everyone. People who don’t even have anyone with a disability in their family are disappointed when there is rain and we can’t play. It really is rewarding.
OM: What do you see for the future of ?
PL: We want to get more awareness about disabilities and of course, about the organization. Thousands of children in the area fall into this category, children with special needs. We want people to know about us so that they can participate.
OM: What is the next step?
PL: Right now, we have only baseball. We want to branch out into other sports. We’d like to have kids playing modified football and soccer. We are trying to go further, so that the kids can play sports that they otherwise might not be able to play.