NORFOLK, Va. — Gary Owens has been a long time sports fan. The Norfolk resident helps with scorekeeping for many years at Old Dominion University football and basketball games. His passion has been for baseball. He and his wife, Becky, were in search of Challenger Youth Baseball League back in 2001. They found no viable options for their then 5 year old son, Kyle, who has autism, so they figured why not create one. "We knew with his disability that he wasn't going play baseball in the typical fashion", says Owens who started a league in Ocean View.
They found they weren't the only families. Shauna Downing's daughter, Bella has ADHD that includes a processing disorder that doesn't allow her a normal attention span. She's seen a difference in the 2 years she's been playing. "She's much more sociable. Much more friendly", says Dowining.
Crystal Young's son, Miyomi also has autism. She's seen his attitude change and that he's having fun in his first season. Young feels a league like this gives parents a sense of normalcy. "I feel like I'm not alone and I see different types of kids." For Owens doing this has been well worth it. "You look at one kid and when they smile, that's all that really matters."