Challenger league brings children of all abilities together for baseball

Challenger league brings children of all abilities together for baseball

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by Ryan Larrondo

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on May 6, 2012 at 11:08 PM

Updated Monday, May 7 at 12:46 PM

BOISE --  It's the quintessential American pastime: hitting, throwing, and running the bases -- baseball is a sport that any child should be able to enjoy.

Which is why Boise's Tammy Cluff run's Boise's very special Challenger Little League.

"This is my baby, I love it," Cluff told KTVB.

Twenty-three years ago Cluff enrolled her special needs son, Michael, in the Challenger Little League baseball program in Boise.

But there was a problem.

"He played that first year, and he had a great time, it was a lot of fun," Cuff said. "So I signed him up the next year, and I waited, and nobody got back with me. I finally got a hold of somebody and they said they had decided not to have it. And I said 'Oh no, no -- you come tell my son that there's no baseball.'"

It seems the East Boise Challenger League didn't have enough participants that year, so the decision was made to cancel that season. However, Cluff was determined to see it continue. She started her own league, and got the Challenger program going in Boise again, one child at a time.

After the first year, word started to get out.  Now, after two decades of play, the Challenger League has over 180 participants, playing on 14 teams.

"Any child that cannot play on a regular baseball team is always welcome to come play on this one," Cluff says.

Thousands of kids have taken her up on that offer, like eight-year-old Luke Elmer from Boise. Luke plays for the Athletics, and is a "veteran" of the league.

"This is my third year," Luke told KTVB.  The last two years were pretty fun, and I knew that this year was going to be as fun as the other two," he added.

Like any other child, Luke's favorite part of the game is hitting home runs.  But, he also likes coming out each week and meeting new friends.

That's what it's all about, says Cluff.

"These kids are all my kids, and I love them. I enjoy seeing the smiles on their faces, I enjoy seeing the reaction," Cluff said.  "I enjoy seeing that they can do something every other kid can do.  And they can do it just as well."

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