MASON, Ohio - There’s a field of dream in Mason this weekend for hundreds of special needs kids who love to play baseball.
Teams from across Ohio are taking part in the 26th annual Challenger Division Jamboree. It’s an opportunity for them to feel like all-stars.
"To me, it's fantastic,” said Jennifer Christmas, whose son plays in the Mason Challenger League. “It allows my son to be able to be just like a peer. He talks about it. He enjoys coming every Saturday and playing the game."
And it’s just as big a thrill for her and other parents.
"The joy on his face when he hits the ball really well … or when he catches and fields the ball is just awesome," Christmas said.
The players, ages 5 to 22, not only get to play baseball, they make new friends, gain self-esteem and learn life skills as well.
Jennifer Kelly said her daughter, who has played for four years in the Mason Challenger League, has learned a lot.
"Waiting turns. That's difficult for her,” she said. “Confidence that she can do something just like her friends can."
The league has meant the world to Sarah Fister-Brewer's 14-year-old daughter Madeline.
“She's non-verbal …” Fister-Brewer said, “but it doesn't take much … She starts squealing at home when she sees us get out her jersey.. She gets so excited to get here and see friends. It just makes us all happier."
Beyond that, it also creates a support system - a community, she said.
"Being around other families that have kids with special needs has just made a huge difference in all of our lives."
LEARN more about the Ohio Challenger Division Jamboree and the Mason Challenger League.