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!

ALONE WE CAN DO SO LITTLE BUT TOGETHER WE CAN DO SO MUCH!

DIRECTOR

WHY I CREATED THIS LEAGUE?

"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.

ATHLETIC DIRECTOR

"I am so thankful to be a part of the Challenger League! I have met so many wonderful people since this began. 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."

  • 2015 Troy University Graduate with a degree in Sports Management
  • Worked full time with special needs kids since 2012
  • Experience in coaching football, baseball, and basketball.

VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR

"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."

VICE PRESIDENT

 

"A community for our special needs kids has been a prayer for over 7 years, and it was finally answered by bringing two moms together and creating the Challenger League.  I am a mom to five children and two of those are a set of twins. Madeleine was born with
a heart defect which has brought her many health challenges and not given her the typical opportunities for sports and recreational activities like her siblings.  Challenger League gives her a place to call her own and to belong.  We are working and believing for even
more exciting things for our kids as the League continues to grow.  Our motto is to Dream BIG and we are doing exactly that!"

  • Challenger League Founding member and Board member since its inception in 2015
  • Oncology Clinical Pharmacist at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital
  • Doctorate of Pharmacy- Mercer Southern School of Pharmacy 1995
  • Married to Brent for 25 years and we have 5 children: Katherine, Brett, Madeleine,  Elizabeth and John Allen

SECRETARY

"My goal as a special education teacher and sibling of a special needs sister is to help the outside world see special needs people the way they want and deserve to be seen and treated; as equals and with the same opportunities and rights as us all."

  • Elected as secretary of board in April of 2015
  • Lifetime experience with special needs adults and children, and a sister with Down syndrome
  • Special education school teacher at Lee County Middle School East
  • Secretary for Southwest Georgia Buddy Walk
  • Married to Shane Harris, and they have four children

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.

HEAR WHAT OUR GROUP MEMBERS HAVE TO SAY

  • "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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