When Mei Deavers plays ball, he's all-in. Balancing without feet, throwing without hands, making it work. His father Tracey Deavers says, "So he knows, 'Hey I can do what the other kids can do. It's just going to take me a little bit longer.'"
The LaGrange 7-year old is getting some help from "Game On Baseball's" Shannon Snyder, who is impressed with Deaver's determination. Snyder, who trains elite athletes and younger players, says Mei is a natural. He says, “He's very athletic, as everybody can see. He has some God-given abilities that some kids don't have."
And Tracey and Shannon Deaver's little boy has been swinging for the bleachers his whole life.
Tracey, a minister, first noticed Mei - then almost 2 - lying in a crib in a Chinese orphanage. He picked him up, and then couldn't put him down. Deavers says, “When I lay him down, he arched his back and cried out, trying to reach for me without arms, and it broke my heart."
The Deavers, who have four biological children and, now, three adopted ones, adopted Mei, in a huge leap of faith. Back home in Georgia, he blossomed. When surgeons at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta removed his lower legs, Mei embraced his new artificial ones. Soon, he was teaching himself how to ride a bike, and asking to play baseball like his big brother.
Shannon says Mei learned to catch the ball by using his elbows as his hands. But, she says, "It was frustrating to him because, by the time he would get down to pick it up, another kids would have run over and picked up the ball. And he wanted to be the one doing that."
So, this summer, the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta team built Mei an artificial lower arm. It looks like the head of a lacrosse stick. Mei can use it to scoop up the ball, and throw it. We watched him practice with it for the first time, tossing and catching the ball with Snyder.
It will take work, but Mei's okay with that. His father says, "We don't have enough time to talk about all the lessons we've learned from him... His patience, his love for life."
And Mei's heart has inspired his parents to open theirs, one more time. His mother Shannon says, "We've actually started an adoption process for another child, very similar to Mei."
The toddler is now in a Chinese orphanage. Shannon says, "Mei's first statement, when we started talking about this little boy, he's also missing his arms above the elbow, was, 'I can teach him how to do everything.'"
Because Mei Deavers could teach us all --- about the game of life.
A family friend has started a fundraiser to help the Deavers raise the $35,000 they need to adopt another child from China. To learn more, go to gofundme.com/wf5bma34