CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Kids in the Tom Jones Challenger League weren’t alone on the field Tuesday night. The league for special needs kids got a helping hand from UI athletes.
Baseball is exciting on its own, but this game was extra special. With the college athletes’ skills and the Challengers kids’ determination, this game was a win-win for everyone.
Cheers are ringing through the stands for the players on the Challenger League. Baseball is their favorite pastime.
“It’s good sport.”
“Hang out with your friends and have something to do and just have a bunch of fun.”
But this game is a little different. While people were rooting for them from the sidelines, UI athletes cheered them on from the field.
“I was a champion. You like to hit too? I like to hit.”
But at this game, these UI players took a backseat to the real stars on the field.
“Everyone comes up and thanks us after, but we’re so thankful that they want us here to come help out.”
They ran alongside the challengers every step of the way.
“You don’t get a better opportunity to share your love of the game. Baseball or whatever it may be. The kids love it when you interact with them and have a good time and motivate them.”
“It’s really cool to have them as athletes and buddies and playing out here is awesome.”
Winning is just a word, and for these players, it means getting a chance to give the game their best. The Tom Jones Challenger League started with four players, and now, 20 years later, it has more than 100.
These kids are great, and the smiles on their faces when they play the game makes everyone else smile too.