URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Tuesday night was a memorable one at the University of Illinois’ Eichelberger Field.

The Tom Jones Challenger League gives kids with special needs a chance to play baseball. The league held its All-Star Game at Eichelberger and more than 70 kids took part, paired up with Fighting Illini athletes.

“Kids get to play in front of a big crowd and be appreciated for what they do,” said the League’s Tom Grey. “They are blown away. You can see the smiles on their faces. Our first rule is to have fun and our last rule is to have fun.”

The kids’ parents were nearby, watching them play from the bleachers.

“It’s great to see people go to such effort to get these kids what they need,” said parent John Gordon. “I mean, they need a chance to socialize. They need a chance to get out and play and maybe find their passion. Who knows?”

The crowd did not go unnoticed from the field.

“They’re pretty amazing, they’re pretty loud” Grey said. “It’s different than baseball. I think we’re more than baseball.”

Grey and Gordon both hold a special place in their hearts for the league.

“I think these kids don’t get seen as much as they should, and this is one good opportunity for that,” Gordon said.

“I’ve been with the league for 23 years now and I wouldn’t give it up for anything,” Grey said.