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Making a Difference | Camp Hill Challenger Baseball League visits the White House

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It was exciting trip for the Camp Hill Challenger Baseball League, as players are still riding high from their visit to the white house earlier this week.

They joined other local athletes as part of the President's Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.

It was another honor the Challenger players got two years ago that was the focus of my Making a Difference report, and I'm showing it again for folks who may not know about this program for players who otherwise would not get to enjoy America's pastime.

“Staying at the Hampton Inn, having a picnic, playing baseball,” Parker States said.

A hotel stay and a picnic are fun, but it’s the third thing Parker mentioned that is making a difference for special athletes.

The Camp Hill Challenger Baseball Program is open to athletes ages 5 to 21 with an intellectual or physical disability and who are from Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry and York counties.

Instructor Tony Fowler said there are 72 kids on the roster this year and he anticipates 100 next season.

This year, Tony said, is presenting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as the Camp Hill Challengers are heading to the LLWS.

"We're going to the Little League World Series. We were chosen to be one of two teams out of 1,000 to play an exhibition game at the Little League World Series,” Tony said.

The team left for Williamsport Thursday, but CBS 21 caught up with the team at practice last week as they were getting ready for the big game.

Vance Hawkins has four daughters who have been on the challenger program, including 15-year-old Jonna, who is on this year’s team.

"It's opened them up to at least try new things, it doesn't matter how they do, it's that they tried, so we're excited that they do it,” Vance said.

Seventeen-year-old Dakota Dougherty has been playing for 10 years. He plays catcher, a position he loves, and also loves to hit the long ball by smacking home runs.

Even though he has skills on the field, Dakota’s mom, Angela Jacobs, said it’s a different focus that is making a difference in their lives.

"I've always wanted to put him on a regular baseball league, but a lot of the coaches are like win, win, and that's what they're all about,” Angela said. “And here, these kids get to play a game that they wouldn't normally be able to play and they can be themselves and everybody wins here."

For anyone wondering if their child with a severe disability would be a good fit for this program, it’s designed for them.

"That's actually the exact child we want on our program,” Tony said. “It's perfect for us, we see children who would not be able to participate in other programs, thrive out here on our fields."

If you or a loved one is interested in playing in the Challenger Baseball League, you may want to check them out on Sunday, June 17th which is Father's Day at FNB field.

Immediately after the Senators game. The Challenger League will play their games and the community is welcome to come cheer them on and learn about the league before you register.

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Local baseball program is making a difference and headed to LLWS

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