HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Most would agree that learning and then knowing how to play a sport can come naturally. However, for many people in our community, it's the opposite. In fact, it's more of a challenge.
The homerun is key component of playing a good game of baseball, but for the Challenger Baseball League in Huntington, the grand slam you're thinking of isn't what they're batting for.
"We wanted our kids to be able to feel like they were a part of a team. To learn about sportsmanship, and playing together, and leaning on one another," Jesse Slash said.
The Challenger League is for children and adults with special needs. Jesse Slash and her husband Charlie run the league.
"Regardless of what age an individual is and regardless of what their diagnosis is, you want to feel like you are a part of an establishment. You want to feel like you have something other than therapy and doctors appointments and you don't just want to be seen as your diagnosis You want to feel like you're able to be a part of your community," Jesse said.
Both of her kids have special needs and they hit the mound each week. On the League 3 baseball field, no one is pressured to do anything they don't want to do, but encouraged to do everything they can do.
"They learn respect for their other players too. They get a long good. There has never been one problem," said Charlie Slash.
Charlie grew up in Huntington playing ball and always dreamed of coaching. Parents of players say they're more than thankful for Jesse and Charlie and all of the work they do for their kids.
"They're there, they treat them like family. Every kid is like their kid. Everybody is like brothers and sisters down here. Everybody gets treated the same. They're wonderful people," said Amber Nelson.
Nelson's son has Down Syndrome, and it's his third year with the league.
"They treat him like he's a king like they do all of the kids out here. The kings and queens of this field," Amber Nelson said.
The friends on this field decided it was Jesse's and Charlie's turn to feel like royalty.
"Since you guys are so wonderful, and you do everything on your own for all of these kids out here, I would like to award you with WSAZ Hometown Hero for Charlie and Jesse. You are awesome," Nelson said.
They're so awesome that they manage to teach children and adults with special needs something many of us forget in the heat of the game. Win, lose, or draw, it's how you overcome your challenges and still manage to smile the whole way through.