Challenger League provides a safe place that individuals with disabilities can call their own. We like to use the term PLU - (PEOPLE LIKE US). It is truly special! Each year kids, young adults, families, volunteers, donors, and the community are changed due to the magic that happens. No child with a disability is turned away from the Challenger League.

Each child is matched with a buddy. The buddy gets to know your child and serves as a big brother or sister. The parent is able to come to practice and games and other activities and enjoy watching their child play with friends and can have a typical experience while building fun memories.

Challenger League creates this magic through social clubs , summer camp, special events, weekend outings and sports for girls and boys. Challenger League strives to enhance the lives of children with developmental disabilities and their families by focusing on their abilities – not disabilities. We provide services throughout the year to residents of six counties in Southwest Georgia. Challenger League serves individuals with behavior disorders, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism, Asperger’s, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome, Spina Bifida, and many more. We are only a year old and are striving to give you and your child a wonderful experience!



“The Challenger League fills such a special need in our community. We have all been so impressed by Jennifer’s vision for this program.  Only with service by those who care, does a community get stronger.  It is all about one life influencing another.  That is what the Challenger League is all about and I am so grateful to be able to be a part of this wonderful vision.”

• Elected President of the Board in April 2015.
• Many years experience in Non-Profit management.
• Finance Director at the Lily Pad SANE Center and also a founding member and President of the Board of The 11 Foundation.
• Accounting degree and M.B.A from Wake Forest University.



I never dreamed of being a special needs parent.  But then again, who does!?  When we learned that Landon had some special needs and did not function like a  “typical”  child, I didn’t know how to act- how to parent a child that was “different”.  I always thought he would catch up- he would be “normal” in a few years.  I wanted so desperately for him to be able to be on a “team” like his brothers.  Yet I know when my own kids were on baseball teams I was guilty of being “that” mom! The mom yelling THROW HIM OUT to a 9 year old!!  I could not stand the thought of someone getting upset that Landon was watching the ball as he runs so very slow to first base.  Why would someone get upset?

Well one of the struggles I have as a special needs parent is—you can’t see Landon’s different abilities.  They are hidden deep in his brain and we don’t even really know what his diagnosis is or what causes it.


“I joined the Challenger League during my internship with the Lee County School System and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have met many wonderful people during my time in the league. Being able to provide these players with the chance to be a part of a team and helping them discover abilities they may not have known they had has been a fun and rewarding experience for me.

I hope that I am able to teach these kids a portion of what I have learned from them. I am honored and excited to be a part of this league, and I can’t wait to see what is yet to come.”

  • Original member and head coach in the Challenger League.
  • 2015 Honor Graduate from Troy University with a degree in Sports Management.
  • 2012 Honor Graduate from Albany Technical College with degrees in Human Resources and Service Sector Management.
  • Member of the National Technical Honor Society.
  • Worked full time with special needs kids for the last five years.
  • Worked in the youth sports department for two years at the Albany YMCA.
  • Played sports for all of my life and have experience coaching football, baseball, and basketball.


My desire to help others led me to a career in social work.  I received a bachelors degree in psychology, then pursued my masters in social work from Valdosta State College.  In 1999, began my career as a case manger for a residential program for adults with disabilities.

Since that time I have worked with outpatient mental health programs for children, as well as geriatric patients.  I now serve as an oncology social worker in an area cancer center.

While my career is rewarding and I enjoy the work I do, I really wanted to serve as a volunteer in an organization where I felt that I could really give to others.  I was fortunate enough to have met Jennifer Sapp just as the conception of the Challenger League was about to become reality.  I served as a buddy during the first season along with my youngest son.  We both really enjoyed this experience as these kids gave so much more to us than we gave to them.  Seeing the smiles, hearing the laughter, and watching the proud parents getting to watch their children "play ball" was such an awesome experience.  I have since served on the league as a kickball coach and a T-ball coach, which I thoroughly enjoy.

I also love that my sons, Donovan (19) and Cortin (13) get to participate in the program as volunteers.  I am very proud to be a new member of the board for the Challenger League.

Our Mission

Challenger League believes that all individuals have the right to experience life to its fullest potential and to have full recognition of his/her dignity and individuality. Challenger League provides children with developmental and physical disabilities the opportunity to participate in athletic and social events, develop lasting relationships among their peers, coaches and parents, and show them they are an important part of their community by creating an environment of inclusion for both their kids and their parents.


  • "Our son Wes has Autism. The Challenger League has been a blessing to our son as it has given him opportunities I feel otherwise would not be readily available. He is a smart, energetic boy with so much to offer and has been able to become more involved because of the Challenger League. We also love the Challenger League's promotion of special needs in the community and feels it brings more awareness and education."
    Heather Hood Johnson
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