PARIS, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) – The East Central Illinois Challengers League, an adaptive baseball league for special needs youth, debuted a new baseball field that’s located just behind the American Legion Post 211 in Paris.

The construction of the field was put on hold due to COVID-19 and delayed the project by three years.

Challengers League President Matt Colvin said the new field will put the league in a better position to give special needs youth a chance to play sports.

“They’ve been on the outside looking in and have never been able to play this game, but now they’re out here,” Colvin said. “It’s so much fun for them and so enjoyable for everybody to watch.”

Each batter that steps up to the plate will get a base hit, take a base, score a run and have the chance to play defense on the new field. Participant Leo Hoover said that he’s happy to have the new field, and that he’ll be swinging for the fences.

“If I hit the ball, I’m going to run around and go home and try to make it home,” Hoover said.

This Little League affiliated operation requires plenty of volunteer help. Many of those volunteers are from Paris High School. Caleb Brinkley is one of those who volunteers, and he said that it’s an honor to help out.

The Challengers League currently has 52 players. Colvin explained that players will not have to worry about any costs from food, uniforms or other equipment as the league will pay for all costs and provide equipment. He said that this will give players the chance to make lifelong memories on the diamond.

“We decided that it’d cost the families nothing,” Colvin stated. “It doesn’t cost them a dime.”

Colvin said that the concession stand should be completed soon.