Little League Challenges Lives
"All things we're used to seeing on a baseball diamond, but in the challengers league, it's all new," said Heather Johns, Challenger volunteer. "A lot of these kids have never played before. They get new gloves and new bats."
One parent, Melissa Sones said, "I never thought I'd be able to see him in a baseball uniform. So it was just kind of neat to be able to have a baseball game to come to."
Sones' son T.J. has dealt with Cerebral Palsy since he was 8 months old. "It took me a long time to get the grip of dealing with a handicapped child. I'm a single mom to do it all by myself it was hard. It was challenging," Sones said.
But with help from the Challenger's league, Melissa captures memories she couldn't ever imagine, "Just seeing him make the home runs and to not even count the home runs. Just to see him do it. It's really nice," explained Melissa.
"The best thing is to watch the parents. A mom came up after the first week and she said thanks so much. When he hit that first home run I had tears in my eyes." said Challenger Commissioner Nathan McMahill.
McMahill organized the Challengers league. The rules are simple. Every inning, everyone hits, and the last batter gets a home run.
"It's definitely organized chaos," said McMahill. "People are running around, but that's what so fun about it. They can do what they want. If they want to throw the ball 500 feet over my head, if they want to hit the ball and it dribbles to the pitcher and they run around the bases it's them. It's there game," explained McMahill.
The kids are the stars, but the adults come away with the biggest smiles of all. "You go home and you feel better about yourself. People always say it's not you giving to them, but it's them giving to you and that couldn't be more true,"said McMahill.
Johns added, "To see the parents so excited. Tape recording the first game. Awesome. I was real excited to be a part of something like this."
In a league like this, there are no errors and T.J. catches a feeling only he can describe, "Hitting the ball and it goes to the sky."
The Challengers league started playing baseball in St. Louis 15 years ago. The Columbia group plans on having a fall league later this year.