Nightly News   |  August 11, 2013

Special needs kids hit field for America’s pastime

It’s a dream come true for the kids participating in the Little League Challenger program. NBC’s Mike Taibbi reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally tonight, our making a difference report is about kids everywhere who just want to play ball , including tens of thousands of kids with special needs . that's where a program created by the little league comes in. it connects them with our national past time.

>> reporter: if its purest form, america's past time is simple, a chance with a swing of the bat for a moment to remember, for any kid to remember. these are special needs kids playing in a little league challenger game.

>> our kids get to play with the same equipment on the same fields with similar rules. and everyone plays. we do everything we can to make it as authentic as we can.

>> reporter: it's certainly real and important for the 30,000 kids in 900 challenger divisions worldwide. these kids in portland, oregon, had a little star power on their side. girls like 13-year-old shortstop who in the middle of their own little league series competition chose to be here.

>> it gives them a chance to have fun with everyone and be on the same field and have fun with everyone else.

>> it's really interesting how quickly some of these baseball players feel like a hero because our challenger players look up to them.

>> good afternoon, everybody.

>> it was dan who gave the challenger program a touch of little league bigtime. his son alex had been in the program, and when he died unexpectedly in 2010 , dan's commitment to the game and to all kids who play it only got stronger.

>> i found a passion for the kids that were like alex. that they just wanted to play baseball.

>> this boy is a bau player with autism. usually one of his parents help him but not this time.

>> we get to watch. we get to be parps and watch the game.

>> there is no cry in baseball, but there are tears of joy.

>> it's a dream come true.

>> and excitement. kids, baseball, summertime. perfect. nbc news.