For love of the Game

By Coleman Swierc

TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) - In this baseball game, there are no strikes, only smiles.

"It is awe inspiring to see these kids come out and have such a good time," said Marty Pullen, a coach of the Little League Challenger division.

From across the state of Texas, children with special needs, both mentally and physically, got a chance to play ball this weekend at Faulkner Park in Tyler.

So that for once, they were the biggest game in town.

"You get to know these boys and girls, and you understand that it is a thrill for them," said Pullen, "Some of them, they show it outwardly, some of them, you just know the kid and you know they are really enjoying it."

"It is just great to see there faces light up, and to know that they are being aknowledged," said Sidney Dukes, a cheerleader at the games, and a challenger "buddy," "And that they just love doing something."

In 1989, Little league developed the Challenger league, so that all kids would have the ability to play ball.

With buddies by their side, these players swing the bat, and run the bases…without a care in the world, because with every score comes a smile.

"It is a normal chance in their day, in their lives to come out and just have fun and be normal," said Courtney Bowers, a challenger buddy, "We are helping them be able to do stuff that they cant normally do."

Dukes added, "We just say lets go, and come on you can do it, and lets go Tyler and lets go everybody."

In the end, there is no final score, only a hug, and a high five.

Because in this game, everyone scores and everyone wins.

"I see them hit the ball, and I see that smile on their face, and that hop and skip to first base, it just tells the whole story."

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