SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Following a two-year pandemic postponement, San Jose's Cambrian Park Little League Challenger team is now only two weeks away from playing in a Little League World Series exhibition game.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," team manager Barbara Morrone described. "This is like, a premiere event in youth sports and we are just so honored to have been selected to go."
Morrone started Cambrian Park's Challenger Division 12 years ago. A baseball mom herself, she said she quickly recognized some kids didn't have a team to play on.
"You find a need and you fill it," she said.
Over the years, Morrone, athletes and their families found the effort has fostered friendships on and off the field, and has built community regardless of ability. The Challenger Division is designed for players with physical and intellectual challenges.
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12 players, coaching staff and volunteer "buddies" will be the first from San Jose to participate in the Little League World Series, headquartered in Pennsylvania.
"There should be equal opportunity for everybody," Morrone said. "Sometimes a few accommodations need to be made, but baseball is a sport for everybody."
It's a grand slam opportunity for 10-year-old Julian Haas.
"We are really excited for him to do this," mother, Kris Coleman-Haas told ABC7 News. "He's been a big fan of baseball since he was about 18-months-old."
Having previously played in other leagues, Julian's mom said the experience grew difficult for her son.
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"He kinda got ostracized a little bit. It was harder for him to play on those teams," Coleman-Haas shared. "And then he comes to this league and he is just one of the kids. He's one of the guys playing."
The team, the community, the rest of the Cambrian Little League all offering the supportive environment needed.
"Me and one of the volunteers were throwing and catching," player, Joshua Myers told ABC7 News. "And he was like, 'Hey, you can be a pitcher!' And I'm like, 'Really?' And I was like, 'Wow!'"
And "wow" is right. During the team's last weeknight practice in San Jose, Myers threw pitch after pitch. Morrone said Myers will be the first Challenger Division youth pitcher to pitch an exhibition game at the Little League World Series. This monumental opportunity, Myers said, proving anything is possible.
"I hope this will give them the opportunity to live their life and give them inspiration," he said, about others facing similar physical or intellectual challenges. "When I'm older, I'll have a good story to tell."
To make the trip possible, Morrone said the team spent the summer fundraising. They raised nearly $80,000 to cover the cost of travel to Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
To learn more about Cambrian Park Little League Baseball, click here.
To donate to the "Challenger Road to the World Series" effort, click here.
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