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Little League tournament for special needs kids comes to Central Florida Oct. 14-15

Posted on Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 6:00 am

By Jennifer DiDomenico
For the News-Gazette
The annual Florida Challenger Jamboree will be held in Central Florida for the first time in nine years.
The Little League tournament for children with special needs will be Oct. 14-15 at the South Orange Sports Complex, with more than 400 Challenger athletes from all over the state of Florida.
Challenger Baseball was created by Little League International, allowing children with disabilities the opportunity to join recreational baseball teams solely focused on their well- being. Celebration Little League became the first Little League in Osceola County to offer the program in 2007.
Heading the event is longtime Celebration resident and Celebration Little League volunteer Kathy Whitmire. With three children of her own, Whitmire has had her hands full as an involved parent, community member and Challenger director. Whitmire has been involved with Challenger Baseball since its inception in 2006, when the idea for a special needs Little League baseball team was first suggested at a Little League board meeting.
Whitmire was asked to head this year’s Florida Challenger Jamboree, and said she immediately accepted and loved the idea as Central Florida offers a more central location for athletes across the state.
“Taking our teams over to Clearwater quickly became the highlight of our year – both for the athletes and for all of the volunteers,” said Whitmire. “Being surrounded by 1,000 people grateful to be alive, grateful to be playing baseball with new friends who don’t care how slowly they walk or how many swings it takes to make a ball move a foot off a tee while the crowd goes wild renews your faith in humanity and proves that no obstacle is too hard to overcome.”
Experience Kissimmee has partnered with Celebration and South Orange Little Leagues to make this event something Challenger members might remember for a lifetime. Experience Kissimmee is sponsoring a celebratory barbecue at SeaWorld following the Saturday games.
“When I first reached out to Experience Kissimmee, I was searching for a source to help secure the quantity of hotel rooms for these families coming into Osceola County,” said Whitmire. “Within minutes of describing what the Challenger program was about, the Experience Kissimmee team was brainstorming how to make this the most amazing weekend possible. Their support has been overwhelming and it makes me proud to know they are part of our Celebration community.”
For more information, contact Kathy Whitmire at
The public is welcome to cheer on the athletes at the South Orange Sports Complex on Oct. 14 and 15. Games begin at
10 a.m.