Miami Marlins make disabled man's dream come true - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Miami Marlins make disabled man's dream come true

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MIAMI (WSVN) -- A dream came true for one huge Marlins fan who, until Thursday night, had never been to a Major League Baseball game.

It took Lennie Merchant 47 years to attend his first baseball game. Thursday night, Merchant assisted in the ceremonial first pitch by handing the ball over to Petty Officer Lori Kim in honor of Independence Day.

Those who know Merchant call him an avid Marlins fan. "He's been smiles ever since he found out he's going to be able to do this," said Charlotte Mather-Taylor, who works with him.

Merchant was born with severe disabilities. He is confined to a wheelchair and can only express himself through painting. One of his great joys, while living in Plantation under the care of the Ann Storck Center, is watching the Miami Marlins play on TV.

Mather-Taylor, the CEO of Ann Storck Center, has known Lennie for most of his life. On Thursday night, she wheeled Lennie out onto the field. "He loves his Marlins, and he's an avid sports fan, so he was so excited about being here today. He has on his Marlins T-shirt," said Mather-Taylor.

Mather-Taylor's group originally bought game tickets for Lennie, but they reached out to the Marlins and told them Lennie's story. The Marlins then decided to let Lennie come out onto the field before the game and throw the first pitch. "It is the ultimate dream. How many people get the honor of doing this? I mean, he's totally excited," said Mather-Taylor.

Lennie was also able to take a picture with Billy the Marlin and even received a signed ball.


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