On May 21 and 22, Little League® Baseball and Softball held its 9th Annual Western Region Challenger Fun Days at the Little League Western Region Headquarters in San Bernardino, Calif.
This year, 18 teams from Southern California and Mexico brought players with intellectual and physical challenges to the event. The event was free for all participants thanks to the support of Gatorade and Stater Bros.
The event kicked off with Opening Ceremonies and a special presentation to the partners for their support. Representing Gatorade was Myles Closner, Senior Key Account Manager, and Vince Frye, Senior Director of Sales, while representing Stater Bros. was Steve Coffman, Senior Buyer and Merchandiser.
“It’s amazing to see these children set aside their challenges for a few days, have fun, and enjoy all of the things that baseball has to offer,” said Barbara Sky, co-organizer of the Western Region Challenger Fun Days in San Bernardino. “Everyone who comes out to this event is special. And all of our volunteers work tirelessly to make sure this is an amazing event, and the smiles on the player's faces are the ultimate reward.”
The Western Region Challenger Fun Days featured a full slate of baseball games for the Challenger Division players. Carnival games, prizes, swimming, basketball, and other activities were also available to participants. The San Bernardino Sunset Rotary Club provided lunch on Saturday, while the volunteer umpires cooked breakfast for the participants on Sunday morning. Players also enjoyed a dance from 8 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, and camped out in tent city.
“My son loves it. The favorite part of the weekend (for him) is playing baseball. He enjoys associating with everyone that’s on the team,” said Amy Gutierrez, whose son, Diego, 15, has participated in six Western Region Challenger Fun Days. “Playing in the Little League Challenger Division has helped him in school, as he helps the teachers and coaches. The Challenger program has helped bring him out, as he was shy and reserved in the past.”
“Challenger Jamborees, like the event in San Bernardino, are a wonderful opportunity for the players in our Challenger Divisions to come together and forge lifelong memories on the baseball field,” said Sam Ranck, Little League Director of the Challenger Division. “We are grateful to Gatorade and Stater Bros. for their support of the Western Region Challenger Fun Days to ensure that all children and their families can have the opportunity to have a fun, meaningful experience on the Little League fields at our Western Regional headquarters in San Bernardino.”
Little League International works closely with its national sponsors to help provide valuable support for local Little League programs around the world, including initiatives like this to support Challenger Division participants and families with free entry to the Western Region Challenger Fun Days.
Established in 1989, the Little League Challenger Division® provides boys and girls with physical and developmental challenges, ages 4 and older, the opportunity to enjoy all that the game of baseball offers. The program expanded in 2014 to include the Senior League Challenger Division, with no upper age limit for participation. More than 30,000 children participate in over 900 Challenger Divisions worldwide. This year, Little Leaguers will be able to participate in nearly 30 Challenger Jamborees across the United States and in Canada. The boys and girls take part in a baseball game with a variety of other activities throughout the weekend. For more information on the Challenger Division, visit LittleLeague.org.