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.

 I have dreamed of Landon and his special needs BUDS having a team where they could learn at their own pace where they were allowed to have melt downs and no one judges.  A place where parents could meet and make friends with parents that just get it!  PLU (people like us)!!-  so we can start having sleep overs and have friends come to birthday parties.  

Sometimes being a special needs parent is very lonely.  You are scared to go out with friends that don’t have special needs kids.  You don’t want to expose them to the stresses and melt downs that sometimes take place.  You don’t want to go to functions or places that may be sensory overload and have “typical” parents look down on you while your child that has UNSEEN disabilities is acting like the 3 year old brain that is in his head!  I finally stepped out on a limb and followed my heart. I fought for what my child needed and what I wanted for my child!  A month later after I stepped out on that limb and put myself and my fears out there, we had formed what today is known as the Challenger League.  

In a two week period the CHALLENGER LEAGUE had 25 kids signed up to play the first league of baseball exclusively for special needs kids.  We had 5 counties represented and we had 27 buddies committed to show up to mentor our kids.  These buddies would step in at games and practices so the parents can have an hour or two a week to pretend all is right with the world and sit back and enjoy their children playing ball! I never dreamed to start a non profit but the NEED was so big I had to keep going!  Now we offer more than 10 different programs we have over 150 families that have been a part of this league and we are still growing-- THIS IS WHY WE CREATED 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.

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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