Life's Better Here: Bluffton 2013 (VIDEOS)

By Emma Koch - 21Alive

August 7, 2013 Updated Aug 7, 2013 at 5:13 PM EST

BLUFFTON, Ind. (21Alive) -- Time now for our weekly look at a local home town. Eric and Jason are in Bluffton.

It's batter up at Bluffton's Whicker Field. They're called the dream team, a bunch of kids with sometimes severe physical disabilities who play all out, with heart and soul.

“There's just joy, excitement just tears of joy to see all these kids just play and interact with each other,” Janet lowry said.

The dream team was born 10 years ago when Bluffton special needs teacher Angie Sissen was looking for a way to keep her students active over summer. She and a handful of volunteers came up with the idea of a wiffleball team. When word of the idea got out the whole town stepped up to help, built the kids their own ballfield complete with backstop and bleachers and when a concession stand was needed money, materials and labor just poured in.

One night a week all summer long the dream team meets at Whicker Field. The players don green and brown tee shirts and square off, doing what many of them once only dreamt of doing.

“Run around the bases and see 'em smile and laugh and do things they normally can't do, Rowdy Yates said. “It's the biggest pleasure in the world.”

Volunteer Richard Bricker mans home plate for every game and says he feels he is the privileged one.

“And I get to help them hold the bat i get to help them hit the ball and I get to watch them take off going to first base laughing and a giggling just having a high old time,” Bricker said.

There are no winners or losers at Whicker Field, just athletes immersed in the joy of play and sunshine and friendship as their families watch from the sidelines. Watch as their children who carry burdens most of us can't even imagine forget those burdens, for a little while at least, and can just be kids, playing with friends in the summer sunshine on this field of dreams.

The people of Bluffton love their city, and the restaurant owners here are making their city even better with some good food.

Take the owners of Sassafrass on Main for example. They've taken a historical building in downtown Bluffton and turned it into a successful restaurant.

"We want to be a part of that stabilization and growth, and hope that our little place is a home away from home for people," Sue Kristek said.

Sue runs the front of the house, serving customers and showing off their diverse menu ranging from a hearty steak or fish dinner to something lighter like sandwiches and salads. Meanwhile, her husband, Chuck, is in the back preparing and cooking.

"He should have been the soup Nazi... Only with a better personality because he makes phenomenal soup, and it's scratch," Sue Kristek said.

Their love of Bluffton is matched by their love of food. And a similar situation is down the street in what used to be the Old Dutch Mill. It's run by Teircell Schwartz. He grew up in Bluffton.

"Then I moved to New York City, did some acting there, then fell in love with food and wine, and ended up being a GM and beverage director up there,” Schwartz said. “And decided to bring a little of the big city back to the hometown."

And once you walk through those front doors, you're transported to another place, but there's still something about it that's familiar and comfortable, something that still feels like home.

"TW Fable is a play on words. TW is Tiercell Williams. And then fable is 'farm to table.' so our philosophy is we try to get as much local ingredients and fresh ingredients that are in season, and those are the ones we try to use the most," Schwartz said.

While we were there, the chef prepared fried green tomatoes fresh from the Bluffton farmer's market. And besides fresh food, you can sit on an outdoor patio with a view of the Wabash River and the city of Bluffton everyone here loves so much. All that love makes life a little better here.




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