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Jennifer Burns to Receive Little League Challenger Award

Jennifer Burns

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Aug. 3, 2005) – The Little League Baseball Challenger Award recognizes the loyal support of volunteers who help children with disabilities enjoy the benefits of playing Little League. Jennifer Burns of Edgewood, N.M., will receive the Little League Challenger Award when she is honored this August at the 2005 Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

Mrs. Burns is coordinator of the Challenger Division in District 5 of New Mexico and will become the state-wide director next season. In her time involved with the Challenger Division, Mrs. Burns has grown the program from 25 to 70 players and from three to six teams spanning Districts 5 and 8. It is her goal to have 150 children playing in the Challenger Division in 2006.

“Jennifer is very tenacious and has taken the entire education process to another level,” Camilla Serrano, New Mexico District 5 administrator, said. “I think of her as a crusader, because she goes to battle for those kids. The whole program is coming alive simply because people are paying attention to the Challenger players through her enthusiasm.”

A parent of a Challenger player, Mrs. Burns has taken a no-nonsense approach to improving the Challenger Division by casting off any assumed limitations about the program. Scheduling Challenger games at different local Little Leagues, and getting various organizations like the Albuquerque Isotopes (Triple-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins) involved has given the program exposure and prompted adult volunteers to participate.

“Mrs. Burns has embraced the Challenger Division and worked diligently to improve the program throughout the district,” said Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball. “Her belief in the program and support of the children is evident, but it is her imagination on how to educate the public on the benefits of the Challenger Division that has helped it thrive in the Albuquerque area.”

Mrs. Burns’ husband, Sam, is a coach in the Challenger Division, which has participants from 18 different Little Leagues from of District 5 and 8.

Started in 1989, the Challenger Division is the fastest growing division in the Little League program, servicing nearly 28,000 children worldwide, ages five to 18. The Little League Challenger Award was established in 1998 and annually acknowledges the efforts of a certain individual who exemplifies the Little League ideal of providing all youngsters an opportunity to play baseball regardless of their ability.

Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with nearly 2.7 million players and 1 million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and scores of other countries