Tallmadge Challenger Baseball offered its annual "Fill The Hole" game June 24.
This year's event was the biggest and best yet, with 60 participants smacking baseballs all over the field in front of more than 400 fans at the Tallmadge Little League facility affectionately known as "The Hole."
"This was the third annual game and we've taken the league from 16 players two years ago to 60 this year," said Greg Michalec, who organized the event along with his wife Tiffany. "It's phenomenal to see the kids' faces after they hit the ball and they're running.
"Everybody's laughing and excited. It's not about how hard or how far you hit it, it's all about the kids and making sure they have a great time."
Fun was had by all in attendance, which included Tallmadge Mayor David Kline and mascots from Kent State and Akron.
"Will Waller, a four-time Paralympian, threw out the first pitch," Michalec said. "Madison McKinney, a sophomore at Tallmadge High School, sang the National Anthem and was phenomenal. Local boy scouts raised the flag. Mayor Kline gave the invocation and was our umpire, then after the game he passed out medals to all of the kids.
"Mark Richards from WNIR was our (public address) announcer. We had about 14 buddies helping the players, everyone from parents to high school kids to grade school kids who don't have special needs brothers or sisters but just want to be buddies. That says a lot about the community of Tallmadge and the surrounding areas.
"Flash and Zippy were great with the kids. They showed so much affection to the kids, helped them run the bases and they both even batted. Kids from Tallmadge's wheelchair basketball team were there to watch.
"The girls and boys Little League All-Star teams from Tallmadge were there in uniform supporting their classmates and their friends. That was really touching. We get tremendous support from Tallmadge Little League."
Mayor Kline, who sponsors one of Tallmadge's five Challenger Baseball teams that compete throughout the summer, thoroughly enjoyed spending an ‘off' day with some of his favorite citizens.
"It was an honor and a privilege to be there and help out," Kline said. "The kids are amazing and it's very heartwarming for their parents and supporters to see them having such a great time. The Michalecs have done a phenomenal job of developing the program."