Robert Smith is the parent of a special needs child. Mr. Smith has been associated with the Challenger League program in Norwood since it was founded in 1994. The mission of the program is to allow those mentally and/or physically challenged children the opportunity to participate in structured athletic programs.
Initially, the league was only for baseball. Children from all age groups now not only have the opportunity to play baseball, but the league has expanded to include basketball, bowling, and other such activities thanks largely to Mr. Smith’s efforts. The children learn to expand their physical skills while they cooperate in team play. There are currently 80 boys and girls in the program from several communities.
In addition to providing recreational activities for these youth, this program serves as a support group for their parents and families and gives local high school students rewarding volunteer opportunities.
Mr. Smith started as a coach and recruiter of his son Robby’s team, and took over as President in 1997. He is a role model for the people of the community. He does everything for the program from getting kids to play to recruiting volunteers of all ages to help out. He has been recognized by the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA), which recognizes individuals who contribute to their communities through service and volunteerism. Nancy Korman, Chair of the MSA, has been quoted saying, “Bob’s dedication to this program has enabled disable youth to experience all the benefits of participating in team sports.” Governor Jane Swift recognized Mr. Smith for volunteering his time over the past seven years saying, “Bob has touched many lives – he has helped young people with disabilities to experience the rewards of playing sports, given parents a forum to support one another and inspired others in the community to support the mission of the Challenger League. I salute Bob for his commitment to removing obstacles in the lives of young children and instead providing them with opportunities to succeed.”