Challenger Sports of WNY is actively searching for interested participants and volunteers to partake and assist with its baseball season and upcoming bowling season. Each player has a physical or mental condition that limits their ability to participate in competitive sports programs. Games are modified to support all skill levels, with assistance as needed. The non-competitive program continually coaches players to play the best they are able.

“Any age is welcome.” Linda Conlin, treasurer and bowling coordinator, said. “We’ve had players range in age from 3 to 80.”

In 2002, Mark and Brenda Zimmerman founded the Challenger group with eight baseball players. The Sunshine Bowling League merged with Challenger in 2006. In addition to baseball and bowling, the organization has offered basketball, volleyball, soccer, golf, football, hockey and swimming experiences in years past. Today there are four board members and 11 directors affiliated with the organization.

Challenger is entirely volunteer based, funded through fundraisers and donations, with no formal registration fee to join. There is a charge for bowling and mini golf. Players are accepted at all times throughout the year, as there are ongoing activities, such as a Halloween party, Prom, Christmas party, Valentine’s Day dance, Easter Egg Hunt and Hoe Down. Event dates and further details are provided on the Challenger Sports of WNY Facebook page.

“Being a volunteer is very rewarding and helps the Challenger Sports League to be as successful as possible,” Conlin said. “The dedication of volunteers is what keeps our program going.”

Volunteers are assigned to a team to assist with communication, scheduling, pictures and volunteer management with their respective team families. The volunteers’ availability greatly affects the amount of programming that is offered, but there is flexibility regarding how much time each individual devotes to the organization. Those interested in volunteering can contact ChallengerSportsWNY@yahoo.com or call (330) 204-2880.

The last baseball game of the season will be on Sept. 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Ray Lee Field on Lincoln Avenue. Challenger Sports is hosting a chicken dinner fundraiser on site from 3 p.m. until all dinners are sold. The organization is seeking donations to obtain potato salad, macaroni salad, rolls, take out containers and wrapped silverware. Those willing to assist can contact Vince Muto, vice president, at vptiger56@aol.com.

The 20-week Challenger bowling season will commence at three different alleys this year — Rapids Bowling Center in Niagara Falls, Allie Brandt Lanes in Lockport and Medina Lanes — next month.

Bowling begins in Niagara Falls at 3 p.m. Sept. 10. Interested parties can sign up by contacting: Marie at bandit19511@aol.com or (716) 523-8431; or Mary at merrhedges@aol.com or (716) 694-3127.

Bowling begins in Lockport on Sept. 15 (1, 3 and 4:30 p.m.) and Sept. 16 (4:30 p.m.). To sign up, contact Jeanine at craddockjeanine@verizon.net or (716) 433-5976. For those participants who wish to bowl into the spring, there will be an extra 10-week option at Allie Brandt Lanes only.

Bowling begins in Medina at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 12. To sign up, contact Cheryl at angel.13@roadrunner.com or (716) 225-0022.

The season will conclude with a bowling tournament in March sponsored by the Lockport Elks Club.

A parent is expected to attend any events with their player.

Challenger Sports of WNY includes nearly 250 registered players, with several long-term participants and volunteers from Niagara, Orleans and northern Erie counties. Registration forms for those looking to join are available at www.wnychallengersports.com.

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