Updated 08/08/2012 10:08 PM
Special needs children play baseball on a professional diamond
It was a day of fun on a professional diamond for more than 200 special needs children. The Syracuse Challengers Baseball League ended their season at Alliance Bank stadium Wednesday. Twelve teams of kids from age five to 21 played six games. As our Katie Gibas tells us, it is more than just a game to these children and their families.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Brittaney Del Toro, 13, has been practicing the National Anthem for a year. And it was a dream come true to open the Syracuse Challengers final day of baseball.
"It was quite an experience. I was nervous, but to hear everybody clapping for me and to see everybody look at the flag and put their hands over their hearts, was so good. I cried," said Del Toro.
Del Toro has cerebral palsy. And she's been playing in the Syracuse Challengers special needs baseball league for four years.
"I love it," said Del Toro.
Sheila Del Toro, Brittaney's mother, added, "It's very important for her. In fact, she lets us know every week that it's baseball night. Tomorrow's baseball night. Don't forget baseball. It's an incredible booster for her."
Wednesday, Brittaney Del Toro joined more than 200 other children from ages five to 21 for the final game of the season at Alliance Bank Stadium. Every player hits, runs and plays the field during the game.
"Every time my dad pitches, he goes, 'No hitting your father’ and that's what I like about it," said Michael Robinson.
Eleni Georgiadis, a Syracuse Challengers coach, added, "They don't have the chance to play in a regular modified or varsity team in the school. Whereas here, no matter what your diagnosis or circumstance is, you're accepted. The doors are open."
And the best part about the championship game is that the kids get to play in a professional stadium.
"Brittaney is excited every week to play, but I think getting here, the giant Chief's stadium. It's just huge. This is professional. We're in the big leagues now. It's a big deal for them," said Sheila Del Toro.
Even though Wednesday's games mark the end of the season, the kids are already looking forward to next year.
The Challengers will have a banquet next week to honor all of the players.
There will be a fundraiser to help support the league Monday, August 13th, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at CiCi's Pizza in Cicero. Ten percent of the proceeds will go to the baseball league.