’The Carl Erskine Story’: Special Olympics hosts movie night honoring baseball legend

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Indiana filmmaker Ted Green speaks to the audience at the premiere of “The Best We’ve Got: The Carl Erskine Story” in August at the Paramount Theatre in Erskine’s hometown of Anderson. The local movie screening — dubbed “A Night of Inspiration” — is hosted by Special Olympics of Hancock County, which is using the event to honor those who support those with special needs. It will light up the big screen at Greenfield’s H.J. Ricks Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. Thursday.

GREENFIELD — The story of Anderson native Carl Erskine, who rose to Major League Baseball fame through a storied career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, will light up the big screen at Greenfield’s H.J. Ricks Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Tickets are $5 per person, but free to all special education teachers and athletic directors throughout Hancock County.

The local movie screening — dubbed “A Night of Inspiration” — is hosted by Special Olympics of Hancock County, which is using the event to honor those who support those with special needs.

“It’s something we’re doing to give back to the community,” said board member Michelle Wagner.

“The Best We’ve Got: The Carl Erskine Story” highlights Erskine’s life as an advocate of acceptance and inclusion, his illustrious baseball career and his important role as a parent to a son with Down syndrome.

The film — which premiered at the Paramount Theatre in Carl’s hometown of Anderson in August — was created by award-winning Hoosier filmmaker Ted Green, who conducted more than 50 interviews and two years of research to tell the story of the famous baseball player’s pitching prowess and tireless devotion to those with special needs.

The documentary spreads the word about the Erskine Personal Impact Curriculum — or EPIC — a free educational resource guide which Special Olympics Indiana developed to share with all elementary, middle and high schools.

According to the nonprofit’s website, SOIndiana.org/epic: “These unique classroom materials build upon the success of our Unified Champion Schools and Champions Together initiatives to promote learning for every age level, and give educators an impactful way to teach themes inspired by Carl’s life stories of inclusion, belonging and leadership.”

EPIC classroom materials were designed to complement each school’s curriculum through flexible lesson plans and activities, which are available to Indiana educators at no cost.

Wagner can’t think of a better way to honor Erskine, 96, who lives in Anderson with his wife Betty.

The couple raised four children, including their youngest, Jimmy, who has special needs.

The Erskines have long been outspoken advocates for those with special needs, and formed the Carl and Betty Erskine Society to raise money for the Special Olympics, a program that Erskine has championed for over 40 years.

Wagner can’t wait to share the Erskine film with the Hancock County community, especially the special education teachers who devote themselves to supporting students every day.

According to CarlErskineFilm.com, Bobby “Slick” Leonard encouraged Green to consider doing the film on Erskine.

Throughout the film, countless friends and acquaintances sing Erskine’s praises for his lifelong pursuit of championing for those with special needs.

“Without the Carl Erskines of the world, we would never know the real power of sport,” said Tim Shriver, chairman of the board for Special Olympics International.

Wagner encourages the public to come out and enjoy a night at the movies while learning more about the events Special Olympics of Hancock County hosts throughout the year, including a Fashion Show at Cynthia’s Hallmark on March 5.

The nonprofit is in dire need of new board members and volunteers, she said.

“Many of us volunteers are doing double and triple duty just to keep everything going. We could offer more sports (through the Special Olympics games) if we had more help,” she said.

To learn more, visit the Special Olympics of Hancock County page on Facebook or contact Wagner at [email protected].