HELENA — Addison Benson’s face lit up when she started to celebrate with her teammates Sunday evening at Mihelish Field.
Why was she so happy?
Well, it might have been because her Billings Force Fastpitch team had just defeated the Mining City Magic for the Capital City Classic 10U B Championship.
Or, it might have been because her radiant smile is just one part of her love and dedication to the game of softball.
After all, you don’t know someone’s story until you walk in their shoes.
And Benson wears hers on two prosthetic legs.
Benson, an 11-year-old from Laurel, suffered bilateral amputation just below her knees after a lawn mower accident just before she turned 2 years old.
“It was a normal day getting the lawn mowed. I was in a corner where I had to back up and she was right behind me,” her mother Andrea Benson said.
She was airlifted to a local medical facility where doctors said there was no other option but to amputate both legs.
“She got those legs and she was up and moving pretty quick,” Andrea said. “She hasn’t stopped moving since.”
That isn’t to say there haven’t been challenges.
In fact, Andrea even had some worries.
“At first, it was life-altering, obviously,” Andrea said. “We went from what we thought life would be to something completely different; but now we are nine years into this and it’s become the new normal.”
Andrea studied up on prosthetic legs and amputees, a field where information wasn't so readily available back in 2010. In the years since, the family has made connections throughout amputee networks such as Camp No Limits outside of Augusta, Maine.
Whenever Addison encountered an obstacle, it didn’t take long for her to climb right over it.
“There was trial and error,” Andrea said. “If she wanted to do something and she couldn’t do it, we would help her find a way. After a while, we didn’t even question it anymore.”
Before long, she was joining her family in their passion for softball.
After all, her parents grew up playing it.
Soon enough, she was starting in center field.
“She has so much heart and just gives it her all,” Billings coach Travis Tryan said. “No matter what happens, she has a great attitude and I love it.”
Next, she made the decision that she wanted to pitch.
“She doesn’t have toes to point, so dragging her toe while pitching has been a challenge, but she is overcoming that,” Andrea said.
Addison said there are some other struggles, like becoming fatigued when running, turning her foot when batting and figuring out how to slide into second base, but her determination and perseverance always seem to shine brightly.
“She doesn’t have any excuses for anything,” Tryan said. “She just goes out there and plays.”
When Addison isn't on the softball diamond, she skis, wakeboards and plays basketball.
She acts like any other kid, spending time with friends and never lets go of her independence.
Although she will take time to joke that she lost her legs when she was bitten by a shark.
“This has made me who I am,” Addison said. “I couldn’t imagine my life any different.”
But her love for softball always seems to come to the forefront. It doesn’t matter where she is on the field, throwing strikes or running after pop flies in the outfield, she’s just happy to be out there.
“(Softball) is ultimately my favorite sport,” Addison said.
Addison has played her last game at the 10U level and will move up to 12U next year.
While she might have a disability, she and her family can’t imagine their lives any differently.
“Everyone faces their own challenges, but it can’t stop you,” Andrea said. “You can always find a way.”