Little League® Jake Hardison Memorial Challenger Jamboree Comes to Norfolk, Virginia
Formerly known as the “Challenger Little League Baseball World Jamboree,” this weekend-long event will feature an additional sense of pride and accomplishment, as it is re-named in honor of its late founder - Jake Hardison. Mr. Hardison passed away in 2012 at the age of 85. He was a 50-year Little League volunteer and helped originate the Challenger Jamborees in 1992 with the first Challenger Tournament and Fun Weekend in Norfolk. This will be the 22nd year that children with special needs will come to Norfolk for a chance to play baseball and softball like their lucky peers who make it to any of the nine Little League World Series events held this summer.
“The Challenger Division would not be what it is today without Mr. Hardison,” Stephen D. Keener, President of Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “Remembering his vision and dedication with the Jamboree this weekend is the perfect memorial for one of the best volunteers Little League has ever had.”
Opening Ceremonies for the Jamboree will begin at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, at the Azalea Little League Complex. Paul Fraim, Mayor of the City of Norfolk, will speak at the ceremonies, and be joined by City of Norfolk Sheriff, Robert McCabe; Norfolk Tides mascot, Riptide; the Moody Crewe Pirates and the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters therapy dogs. Khedive Shrines and the Governors School of the Arts will perform at the ceremonies, and the Norview High School NJROTC Honor Guard will present the flag for the national anthem. When Little Leaguers are not playing in their games, a carnival, hosted by Ocean View Little League, will be on-site, providing additional entertainment and prizes for the players.
“This event is not just a celebration of all that is good about baseball, but all that is great about these children who can set aside their challenges for a few days and have fun,” Wanda Vonnoy, Co-Director of the Jake Hardison Challenger Jamboree, said. “All of our volunteers work tirelessly to make sure this Jamboree is an amazing event, and the smiles on the players’ faces are the ultimate reward.”
Established in 1989, the Little League Challenger Division® provides boys and girls with physical and developmental challenges, ages 4-18, or up to age 22 if still enrolled in high school, the opportunity to enjoy all that the sport of baseball has to offer. More than 30,000 children participate in more than 900 Challenger Divisions worldwide. For more information on the Challenger Division, visit LittleLeague.org.
This year, Little Leaguers will be able to participate in 13 Challenger Jamborees in 12 states. The boys and girls take part in a baseball game with a variety of other activities throughout the weekend. The Jake Hardison Memorial Challenger Jamboree begins with a pre-Jamboree dance party at the Law Enforcement Training Academy in Virginia Beach and concludes with a picnic at Red Wing Park in Virginia Beach.