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Benefit Dinner Supports World Challenger Jamboree

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Feb. 2, 2007) – The second annual World Challenger Jamboree will be held on May 11-13, at the Azalea Little League Complex in Norfolk, Va. Among those attending a recent benefit dinner in support of the event were Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, and former Major League Baseball pitcher Gary Lavelle.

“We had 270 people attend, and made about $11,000 for the Jamboree,” Jake Hardison, Virginia State Challenger Coordinator and District 8 Administrator, said. “I feel this will be the largest event we’ve ever had, and every dime we raised from the dinner will go into the Jamboree.”

Stephen D. Keener, left, Little League Baseball and Softball president and chief executive officer, and former Major League pitcher Gary Lavelle, attended the recent Challenger World Jamboree benefit dinner in Norfolk, Va. Mr. Lavelle, who pitched 10 years for the San Francisco Giants, was the celebrity guest speaker for the event. The second annual World Challenger Jamboree will be held May 11-13 at Azalea Little League in Norfolk. Va.

The Jamboree, hosted by Virginia District 8, will include games, tours, picnics and other special events. All the details about the Jamboree, including information on how a league can take part, can be found here.

Mr. Lavelle, a left-handed pitcher for the San Francisco Giants (1974-84), was a two-time all-star, with a 2.93 career earned run average and 136 saves.

“Once (Gary) found out the dinner was to help support disabled children, he jumped on the Challenger bandwagon and made a great speech for us,” Mr. Hardison said.

A world-wide Challenger jamboree was Mr. Hardison’s concept. A dedicated supporter and longtime proponent of the Challenger Division, Mr. Hardison began the “Challenger Tournament and Fun Weekend” in 1992, featuring 16 teams. Last year’s inaugural jamboree was an expansion of the Challenger weekend, and drew nearly 100 teams from throughout the United States.

“We’ve already confirmed two teams from Canada, and two from Puerto Rico, are coming,” Mr. Hardison said. “I would love to get one Challenger team from all 50 states and a dozen, or so, from other countries to come to the Jamboree.”

In 1989, Little League launched its Challenger Division to provide boys and girls with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy and participate in the game of baseball. Disabled children from the ages of 5-18 are eligible to participate. Challenger baseball features “buddies” who help their partners by assisting the players when needed.

For more information on the World Challenger Jamboree, please contact Rosa Gregory, Virginia District 8 Challenger Representative at (757) 478-9793, or Mr. Hardison, at (757) 434-2092; or send email to: Challenger@va8ll.org.