Players and volunteers at National Little League celebrate the Doug Hudlin Challenger Baseball program, which received a $15,000 grant from the Jays Care Foundation for dugout improvements at the park relating to accessibility, security and weatherproofing. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

WATCH: Jays Care brings good news to National Little League

Toronto MLB club’s foundation grants $15,000 to help Challenger Baseball program at Victoria park

National Little League took a step towards greater accessibility for players in its Challenger Baseball program this week.

Representatives of Jays Care Foundation, a charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Baseball club, were on hand at Jerry Hale Field at Cook Street and Hillside Avenue on Tuesday to announce a $15,000 Field of Dreams infrastructure grant. The money will help make the park’s first-base dugout accessible for players using wheelchairs or other mobility devices – the third-base side already accommodates that – as well as undertake some other dugout improvements.

Barbara Hudlin, president and co-ordinator of the Doug Hudlin Challenger Baseball adaptive program at National, which has completed its first season, called the grant “a blessing.”

“If you’re going to open a park for challenge baseball, you need to open it for all different challenges, whether it’s a disability or whether it’s that they have speech problem, it doesn’t matter,” she said.

Robert Witchel, executive director of Jays Care Foundation, was on hand for the presentation. He said this project, one of two to receive grants in Victoria – Gordon Head Minor Baseball was given the other for a similar project at Lambrick Park – dovetails nicely into the foundaton’s mandate.

“Jays Care is all about levelling the playing field for kids,” he said, noting that they do their best to remove barriers for children who want to get involved in the sport. “We work with kids living in First Nations, kids living with disabilities, kids living at or below the poverty line; we work with girls who want to get into the game but find that challenging. Everything we do is about giving kids a leg up.”

Witchel said National’s grant application was solid enough to avoid the second stage of the two-step adjudication process. And being able to help at the oldest Little League Baseball park in Greater Victoria – play began here in 1953 – was a fact not lost on him.

“It’s pretty inspiring to be here and to hear all the stories and knowing that this is the first diamond on the Island, it’s exciting for us to be a little part of it,” he said.

The Jays Care crew timed their visit to Victoria to host grant-related events with the Major League Baseball team’s visit to Seattle for a series this week against the Mariners.

Witchel said it’s no secret that Jays fans come out in huge numbers to Safeco Field to support “Canada’s team” and he expected the scene would be no different this time around.

Since Jays Care partnered with Baseball Canada and Little League Canada on the Challenger program two years ago, the program has grown from about 600 participants to more than 4,000.

Jays Care will invest close to $7 million across the country this year in programs and infrastructure for kids, and has Challenger Baseball running in every province.

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Search and rescue piggybacks plucky injured senior out of Comox Valley woods

Rescue crews don’t have same success with dog swept away by river

Canadian Cancer Society stops accepting hair donations

A switch to synthetic wigs will lighten costs for cancer patients

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

3 random words mark every spot on earth in innovative mapping system

World map assigns three word combinations to 57 trillion 3 metre squares

Who was Chris Bloomfield, the Mill Bay man shot by police?

Facebook posts reveal appetite for illicit drugs, a non-conventional lifestyle and shocked friends

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Canada Post no longer guarantees delivery times amid more rotating strikes

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers closed two major processing centres in Ontario and B.C.

B.C. city councillor resigns as AutismBC director amid SOGI controversy

AutismBC president Gary Robins says Laurie Guerra’s resignation is effective Nov. 12

McGill students vote overwhelmingly to change Redmen team nickname

Student union held a referendum after a campaign by Indigenous students

B.C. university Pride group replaces white supremacy posters

Around 50 people walked through downtown Victoria to share posters of love

B.C. to invest $492 million in affordable homes

72 new projects are part of a 10-year, $1.9-billion strategy

Around the BCHL: Surrey Eagles sliding and Cassidy Bowes flows

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and around the junior A world.

Pit bull cross, chihuahua owners must split costs for dogfight damage, judge rules

Eac side responsible for $577.43 towards injuries in Comox Valley incident

Vancouver Island brewery re-brands again after cryptic new logo failed

Victoria-based brewers said goodbye to confusing hexagon logo

Most Read