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Henrico students with disabilities play ball for Challenger Day: ‘We want to treat them like royalty’

Posted at 1:32 PM, Oct 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-17 13:32:12-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Students from 23 Henrico elementary schools came to the Tuckahoe Baseball Complex for the field trip of a lifetime Thursday.

It's part of an annual event called 'Challenger Day' -- geared towards students with cognitive or physical disabilities.

"We have some (therapy) dogs out here, and we have some characters," said Gail Henshaw, Sponsor of the I Have A Dream Foundation. "We want to treat them like royalty for the day."

About 370 students stepped off the buses, to be greeted by a crowd of cheering volunteers. They then got to play baseball, enjoy crafts, games, and a picnic lunch.

"This is an opportunity for us to give back and work with students with disabilities to let them know the sky is the limit," said Ashley Wilkins.

Wilkins is one of the many Capital One volunteers that participate in 'Challenger Day,' and make the event what it is.

But Wilkins has another connection to the event. Her daughter, six-year-old Azzarriah Clark, has been participating for the last three years.

Clark has Dravet Syndrom.

"It’s a rare disorder that’s passed genetically so she has seizures," said Wilkins.

Wilkins added that 'Challenger Day' gives Clark the opportunity to do things she might not always be able to do.

"Like climbing stairs to get to the slide or actually getting on the swing by herself -- so being more independent that is one of the main things she does take away," said Wilkins. "Kids with disabilities -- they should have the chance to chase their dreams or follow their dreams and pursue them. And we should stand behind them

'Challenger Day' is a collaboration of the Henrico Education Foundation, Capital One, and the I Have a Dream Foundation, among others.