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Challenger Sports

August 24, 2021 - 9:19am
posted by Press Release in Challenger Sports, Arc GLOW, batavia, Batavia PD, news.


Press release:

City of Batavia Police Department members raised an impressive $1,500.00 among their ranks to support the Challenger Sports program run by the Batavia Y and supported by the Arc of Genesee Orleans.  

It was Police Sergeant Lawrence’s idea to target their fundraising proceeds to Challenger Baseball.  “I have a law enforcement colleague in another state that’s involved in Challenger,” the Sergeant said.  “We have a lot of new hires on the force.  This is a great cause to encourage them get involved in the community,” he stated.

Challenger sports benefits children with intellectual, developmental or physical disabilities and has offered them the opportunity to swim, bowl, dance, play baseball, soccer, basketball and tennis. 

Batavia Police department members that contributed to the Challenger fundraiser were: Officers Borchert, Cronmiller, Defelice, Flanagan, Freeman, Girvin, Gombos, Perkins, Rissinger, Chief Heubusch, Detective Hill, Sergeant Lawrence and Parking Enforcement Officer Sheflin. 

Y representatives shared the funds will be used for supplies such as adaptive equipment for future programs.

September 25, 2017 - 11:37am
Submitted photo and press release:
The month-long Challenger Tennis Program is in its third week. This collaborative community program offers children with disabilities, ages 5-21, a fun adaptive tennis program in a success-oriented atmosphere.
The first session was held Sept. 10. It's held for four consecutive Sundays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Batavia High School tennis courts.
A "Tennis Carnival" is scheduled at the program's conclusion on Oct. 1.
Collaborative partners are the Batavia Youth Bureau, which is the lead facilitator of the program, Arc of Genesee Orleans, Genesee County YMCA and the U.S. Tennis Association Eastern/Western Region.
A total of 10 athletes are participating this year alongside volunteers from area high schools, Genesee Community College and the community. Volunteers attended training, facilitated by Shelley Falitico, director of Development at Arc Genesee Orleans, on disability awareness and sensitivity training.
The tennis players begin each session with a warm up and do some stretching exercises. They rotate through adapted tennis activity stations, addressing skills such as balance, hand-eye coordination, team work, speed and agility, accuracy and movements forward, backward and side-to-side.
The Oct. 1 "Tennis Carnival" will offer the participating athletes an opportunity to earn "Challenger Cash" at each station and buy prizes such as tennis racquets, tennis balls, board games, candy, kites, movie DVDs, books and more.
The next Challenger sport to be offered will be basketball, beginning in November. Community members interested in volunteering, including college and high school students looking for community service hours, are welcome to donate their time for a Challenger sport. It's a great experience for all involved!
For more information, to register or to volunteer, call the YMCA at 344-1664.
July 8, 2015 - 8:15am
posted by Daniel Crofts in baseball, Challenger Sports, Special Needs Children.

On Sunday, "Challenger Sports," a joint program of Genesee ARC and the YMCA for physically, intellectually and developmentally disabled kids ages 5 to 21, marked its 10th season with an alumni baseball game at the Little League field in Batavia. Alumni players faced off against alumni coaches and volunteers.

Pictured: alumni volunteers, coaches and players; half of them are in this photo...

...and here is the other half.

Shelley Falitico, director of development at ARC, recalled the program's humble beginnings in 2006.

"When we started, it was 'Challenger Baseball,' " Falitico said. "A local parent expressed interest, and contacted ARC and the YMCA. We started recruiting volunteers, we sent out notices for kids with special needs, and we had 70 kids sign up. When it ended, parents came up to us and asked, 'What's next?' "

Since then, the program has grown to include indoor soccer, tennis, dance and, over the last year, basketball and swimming.

Many of the Challenger alumni, according to Falitico, have gone on to play softball in the Special Olympics.

"They've been learning and playing for 10 years," Falitico said. "I take some pride as the coach, helping them learn the fundamentals of baseball on a real baseball field."

From left, alumni volunteers Eric Houseknecht, Craig Houseknecht, Danielle Hirtzel, Brian Falitico and Mark Houseknecht.

Falitico also expressed great pride in the volunteers who have devoted their time to the players over the last decade.

"When we first started," she said, "we had coaches, but I needed more volunteers to help the kids learn different fundamentals of the game."

For that, she turned to area high schools. After recruiting young volunteers, she provided disability awareness training -- and the rest, as they say, is history.

"They volunteered with us all through high school," Falitico said. "What I found really touching was that when they came home from college in the summer, they would call me and say, 'Are you still doing that baseball program? I want to help.' And when I contacted them about a 10-year alumni game they said, 'Absolutely.' "

Some of these volunteers came from as far as Pennsylvania and Boston to participate on Sunday. One gentleman, according to Falitico, was home for the weekend from South Carolina, stopped by to congratulate the team, and then flew back home.

However great the difference the volunteers have made in the kids' lives, the impact has gone both ways.

"(The volunteers) see kids with a variety of disabilities just wanting to get out there and play the game and have fun," Falitico said. "Their perseverance and dedication taught a lot of them to appreciate what they had, and I've had a couple volunteers say to me that it changed the way they viewed themselves and the world."

Pictured current "Challenger Sports" baseball players, coaches and volunteers; half are in this photo, along with Assemblyman Steve Hawley...

...and here is the other half.

The alumni game was preceded by a regular Challenger game with current players. This game ended with the standard Challenger outcome, which is always a tie.

"(Our goal) is just to make it a fun game where everybody gets a chance," Falitico said. "Everybody gets an at-bat, everybody gets to swing -- no matter how many times -- until they hit the ball. We want the kids to learn good sportsmanship."

However, this did not stop Falitico, who coached the alumni players, from squeezing in a small boast about their 30-7 victory over the alumni volunteers.

"We mercy-ruled them," she joked.

For more information about Challenger Sports, call Genesee ARC at 343-1123 or the YMCA at 344-1664.

Additional photos:

Assemblyman Hawley throwing the inaugural pitch of the alumni game

"Hammerin'" Hank Stratton, a 10-year veteran player, up to bat.

Past Batavian coverage:

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