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T-Ball With the President

Clifton's Meredith Cripe hands Bush the ball for first pitch.

Clifton resident Meredith Cripe, 10, got the thrill of her life when she handed President Bush the ball for the first pitch at the Seventh Annual White House T-Ball Game on June 27, which was held on the South Lawn of the White House.

MEREDITH, who has Down Syndrome, has played second base for the Chantilly Youth Association Challenger's T-Ball team since 2004. The Challenger team is for children of all ages with special needs. Her CYA coach, Sean Fitzsimmons, was contacted by the DC area Little League commissioner, who asked him to recommend a child to hand the President the ball for the game.

"Meredith was ecstatic, extremely excited," said her father Andy Cripe. "She grasped the whole idea, she didn't have any fear of being out there, and she was really happy and full of smiles."

"She thought it was really cool," said Meredith's mother, Patty Cripe. "She said President Bush was a nice man."

The T-ball game pitted the Allegheny County Little League Bobcats against the Luray Little League Red Wings. The teams were chosen as a way of giving credit to two Little League teams who won a T-ball championship. Meredith assisted Bush by handing him the ball so that the President could make the first pitch and start the game.

Although Meredith has special needs, she does not have any physical restrictions. She swims for her community pool, the Hayden Village Villains, and also dances at the Centreville Dance Academy. In addition to these extracurricular activities, Meredith also loves going to school. She attends Willow Springs Elementary and will be entering fifth grade in the fall.

"She loves spelling, reading and math," said Patty Cripe.

"I am extremely proud of her," said Andy Cripe. "She learned a lot of information about the president and she knew exactly what to do."

At the end of the game, Meredith received one of the game balls and another ball signed by President Bush.

"It was a pretty neat thing to stand out on the field on the south lawn and stand with the President," said Patty Cripe.