Challenger Day hits a home run

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By Mary Mei and Allison Reagan

The Berwyn Paoli Area Little League field was crowded with players, spectators and helpers during the annual Challenger Day, held on May 30. Attended by 350 special needs participants and hosted by 200 volunteers, the Saturday morning and afternoon were filled with baseball, music and hotdogs.

The event is part of the Challenger Division, a program for mentally and physically disabled youth to enjoy the full benefits of a Little League experience. The program has been holding its games at the Berwyn Paoli field since 1993. Throughout the program’s history, volunteers, both teenaged students and adults, have played a vital role helping the players at bat and in the field, as well as manning the tents at the barbeque after the games.

Senior Bryn Hildebrand, member of the Angels team, began the day by singing the National Anthem as a crowd of over 500 cheered her on. Players then broke off into their teams and headed to one of the 10 fields used for the event. Each player was paired with a volunteer in the field and at the plate.

Sophomore Kyle Chamovitz, fellow Angels player, was excited about the old faces he got to reunite with both on and off the field. He found his favorite part of the event to be “seeing all the people he knew” and taking in the happy environment.

After the games finished, members of the participating teams hung up their caps and joined one another for hamburgers and hotdogs. The music was provided by senior Joey Warner.

Players got to meet the Phillies Phanatic, stop by the ice cream truck and participate in a home run derby to finish the day.

Junior Emily Conaway, one of many Conestoga volunteers present at the event, was glad to see how the players responded to the games.  

“I think it means the world to the kids who participated; they were so excited. We were saying ‘good luck’ and ‘have fun today,’ and they were so thankful,” Conaway said. “It warmed my heart.”