Saturday, August 23, 2014
Loading...





Elkhart Challenger League kids play the game the right way

Side Lines Bill Beck ELKHART - Remember the young blind boy from Edwardsburg who two summers ago wanted to be part of his brother's Little League team? The boy who needed permission from Williamsport, Pa., just to sit on the bench? I happened to run in to him last week at Baugo Little League. He was playing. No, Cameron Beaver, who's now 11, still can't see, but he, along with a couple of dozen
Posted on June 21, 2011 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on June 21, 2011 at 12:35 p.m.

Editor's note: For information on how to donate to the league or where to see the league in action, check out our story here.

Side Lines

Bill Beck

ELKHART - Remember the young blind boy from Edwardsburg who two summers ago wanted to be part of his brother's Little League team?

The boy who needed permission from Williamsport, Pa., just to sit on the bench?

I happened to run in to him last week at Baugo Little League. He was playing.

No, Cameron Beaver, who's now 11, still can't see, but he, along with a couple of dozen friends, is having the time of his life as part of the local Challenger League program.

Don't tell these kids they can't play. In fact, if the truth be known, these children embody the true Little League spirit more than most kids who suit up.

Given all the time I've spent at parks over my life, these young treasures are refreshing.

These players don't worry about how their uniform fits or what flavor of Gatorade they're to have and they don't whine if they don't get to pitch. If they swing and miss, they don't cry.

When the game is over, they all wish they could stay and play on.

Joy is foremost.

Disabled, challenged ... call them what you want, but keep in mind they don't see themselves differently. We shouldn't, either.

Cameron can't physically see any of his teammates, but he knows they're there and feels the game.

"I can't see what they're doing, but I know what they're doing,'' Cameron told me last week.

His father, Todd, follows him to the field and holds his hand at second base. If a ball rolls his way, he'll try to make a play.

At the plate, dad holds and steers the bat. Cameron feels the contact of ball and bat and knows to run. Dad steers his way to first base.

In the dugout, Cameron talked about the game and even sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game'' with John Osborne, who performed a playful play-by-play show for the Challenger League kids and crowd last week.

"It's given him a lot of confidence,'' Todd said of his son. "We talk about what's going on. He's got a good imagination.''

When I sat down next to him and introduced myself, he told me I'm doing a great job as a newspaper writer.

Like I knew how to respond to that. I'm trying to fight off a tear while I listened to this young man talk about how much he loves the game of baseball.

"I enjoy baseball so much,'' Cameron said. "I hate for it to be over. I wish I could see what they're doing.''

I'll tell you what they are doing, Cameron.

They're excitedly dashing to the plate - some running, some helped by an adult, some in motorized chairs - with a bat in hand.

They're running the bases with a personal style and flair and they cross the plate sporting huge smiles.

And they're having loads of fun.

Last Tuesday, Koen Cottman gave a big thumbs up sign when he scored. Cody Barden took a quick bow. Fiona Newcomer just waved and grinned.

Cameron asked me to run the bases with him on his last at-bat. I was honored to help out.

Between first and second base, he said to me, "I know you can run faster than that.''

District 14's Challenger team has been invited to compete in Williamsport, Pa., at the Little League World Series later this summer. The group is looking for any financial donations they can muster to send these kids off to do something incredibly special.

I think the experience is worth every dollar that can be raised.

It's all about Alex Winslow, Amanda Clark, Mykale Canter, Alexis Ham, Austin Miller, Eli Fidler, Riley Paston, Eugene Dye, Justin Palmer and Zach Talley.

It's all about Lexie Hochstedler, JR Grover, Carson Hill, Justin Kirkton, Jacob Stansbury, Bryson Plett, Dustin Ellsworth and Colin Moore.

It's all about great volunteers like Dan Hill, Mike Barden, Joe Higgins, Joe Canter, Kelsey Klimek and Mary Lou Davis.

Davis, who helped start the Challenger program in 1989, wouldn't have it any other way.

"Why wouldn't I do this?" she said. "These kids are all amazing.''

If fact, you can barely have a conversation with Mary Lou without a tear welling up in her eyes. She loves these children that much.

These people share in the best reward possible for being part of this program. Their enjoyment is as infectious as the thrills of the young players.

The Challenger League plays tonight at Baugo. These are the true All-Stars of Little League.

Bring a child or just bring yourself. It should be a must for every player, manager and parent.

I guarantee it's good for the soul.

Bill Beck is The Truth's sports editor. Contact him at bbeck@etruth.com.




Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
 Seattle Seahawks' Christine Michael (33) celebrates his touchdown reception as Jermaine Kearse (15) watches, against the Chicago Bears in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Updated on Aug. 23, 2014 at 2:37 a.m.
Updated on Aug. 23, 2014 at 1:26 a.m.
Back to top ^