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Kids With Disabilities On L.I. Get ‘A (Little) League Of Their Own’

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The Little League of the Islips created the Challenger League, a brand new league for disabled children, this year. (Credit: CBS 2)

The Little League of the Islips created the Challenger League, a brand new league for disabled children, this year. (Credit: CBS 2)

hazelsanchez Hazel Sanchez
Hazel Sanchez joined CBS 2 in 2000 as a general assignment...
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EAST ISLIP, N.Y. (CBS 2) — There’s a brand new little league on Long Island that’s proving the be an inspiration to anyone who has a dream.

That’s because every player has a disability – but that’s not stopping them from getting onto that playing field.

In East Islip, the “field of dreams” belongs to everyone.

For the first time, 10-year-old Jake Pipitone, who’s cognitively disabled, will play ball for a team. He’s a member of the Little League of the Islips’ Challenger League, a brand new league for disabled children co-founded by his mom.

“I wanted him to have all the same things that my other children have,” co-founder Kelly Pipitone had.

“I work with a lot of kids that would benefit from this, and there was a need for it, so I decided to ask,” co-founder Frank Fritz said. “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

The league didn’t bat an eye.

“The questing wasn’t ‘should we do it,’ Bill McLoughlin, of Little League of the Islips, said. “The question was, ‘why not?’”

McLoughlin has been coaching the kids on the basics. Twenty players will split into two teams – the Hurricanes and the Cyclones.

The first game is Sunday, and the players are eager and confident.

“The bat can hit the baseball, and it’s way up high,” player Timmy McCall said.

“To hit a few home runs and maybe sing some ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game,’” player Alex Agati said.

The Hurricanes and Cyclones will play on a skin field with no grassy infield, and they’ll have a special set of rules where everyone wins.

“The nice thing about this is there are no scores, there are no standings,” McLouglin said. “Every child who is on the field will either have a teenager or an adult whose job it is to help them understand and play the game.”

“It makes you feel like your kids can actually do something, and people actually appreciate kids like this,” parent Kathy Spruyt said.

And they’ll have a special set or rules…where everyone wins.

The players are bring unbridled enthusiasm and a fearless attitude that proves there’s not challenge they can’t conquer.

The Challenger League will play ever Sunday through mid-June.

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