Look past the surface with Challenger Baseball

Kate and Jill Almgren share a smile after Monday night’s Challenger Baseball game. The Challenger Baseball league gives special needs children the opportunity to play and enjoy their favorite sport while learning valuable skills in the process.



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Kate and Jill Almgren share a smile after Monday night’s Challenger Baseball game. The Challenger Baseball league gives special needs children the opportunity to play and enjoy their favorite sport while learning valuable skills in the process.

There are two sides to Mason Pearmain — a musically gifted 13-year-old boy who is a spelling bee champion, honor roll student and singer for his band — and a boy with autism.

Over 60 children with special needs just like Pearmain gathered at Canyon View Park Monday for their second week of Challenger Baseball games. The league is designed to give children with special needs the opportunity to play and enjoy their favorite sport while learning valuable skills in the process.

“We love this Challenger Baseball because for the first time we can let go of Mason’s hand and watch him and the other kids have fun,” said Mason’s mother, Sandi Pearmain. “It’s a phenomenal program that teaches empathy to the kids and gives them reasons to shine.”

Mason’s band, Arch Enemy Revival Club, consists of Mason and several of his friends from Orchard Mesa Middle School. Mason sings, plays guitar and writes music, something his mother said only took him one month to learn.

“I like writing lyrics and playing baseball is fun,” Mason said after reciting a list of words that won him the spelling bee at school. “I usually write lyrics for my girlfriends around town.”

Mason’s teammate, Kate Almgren, also 13, loves to have fun and giggles nonstop. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which affects her motor skills and speech. She enjoys just about everything a teenage girl should, including pop music, computers and playing baseball. Almgren is also swimming in the Special Olympics.

Kate’s mother, Jill, coaches Mason and Kate’s team, the Iron Birds. Jill started coaching for Challenger Baseball four years ago after seeing the joy it brought to Kate and her teammates.

“At Challenger Baseball, we think that every kid should have the chance to play and we provide that for them,” said Jill.

Each week members of the community “buddy” up with a player to help them on the field.  It’s a fun and a rewarding experience for everyone.

“This is really a gift not only for the kids, but for the buddies as well,” said Jill. “You can really see it by the end of the game and everyone is relaxed and having fun. It’s truly a blessing for everyone involved.”

The Challenger Baseball league plays every Monday at 5:30 p.m. A full schedule and more information can be found at http://challengerbaseball.net/schedule.php.



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