(Dennis Wierzbicki, US Presswire…)
In a life dedicated to overcoming -- or, better yet, ignoring -- the obstacles presented by being born without arms or hands, Tom Willis will be adding another milestone tonight. He'll be throwing out the first pitch at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, with his feet.
"Who says you need hands to pitch?" Willis asks. "Every little boy who picks up a baseball dreams of some day playing on a professional team in a professional stadium. As a child I shared that same dream. My disability, however, made that dream impossible. But the opportunity to throw out the first pitch is the next best thing."
Willis, who grew up in Takoma Park, has made a career of ignoring the limitations he was born with. Traveling the country as a motivational speaker, he urges people to work beyond their disabilities. His current "Pitch for Awareness" national tour will include stops at several major league ballparks. Since 2008, he's thrown out the first pitch 19 times, including five times in 2012, in New York (Mets), Chicago (Cubs and White Sox), Seattle (Mariners) and Washington, D.C. (Nationals).
Willis has worked as video producer and communications specialist with the federal government and in television production. His website, tomsfeet.com, includes photographs of a young Willis painting with his feet, and an older Willis posing alongside Dolly Parton.
Tonight's Orioles game against the Kansas City Royals is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. Prior to the game, beginning at 5:30 p.m., Willis will give an abbreviated version of his "No Hands -- No Arms -- No Problem" keynote address at the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards. Admission to the presentation is free.