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Cookout marks Challenger baseball 20th season

The 2009 Challengers end-of-season cookout at Norma Lloyd Park Saturday evening wrapped up the 20th anniversay season of Little League baseball for boys and girls with disabilities.

Among the players were Dillon Campbell, Carson Chandler, Connor Crandall, Logan Cronin, Jon-Earle Graham, Bobbie-Noel Graham, Riley Joyce, Christian Kuntz, Jacob Sylvia, Damion Cora, Luke Garske, Israel Quiming, Chandler Schuler, Paul Schultz and Storm Thormondson.

Their coaches were Steve Cronin, Tom Garske, Brad Lisk and Floyd Thormondson.

Among Pittsburgh Pirate minor leaguers who helped the players throughout the season were Andury Acevedo, Chris Aure, Jairo Marquez, Jhonathan Ramos, Gerlis Rodriquez and Andy Vazquez.

“They had as good a time as the kids,” said Norma Lloyd, Challenger director for District 26, about the Pirates. “Having them there was enjoyable and a learning experience for them, too.”

Margaret Butterfield is Challenger assistant district administrator and Sandy Camus is Challenger secretary.

Regional Engineering Service Inc., owned by Kevin and Lori McInerney, and Manatee Masonic Lodge 31 are sponsors.

n That’s 30 years of wedded bliss for Denise and Jeff Smith.

n Big ups to Greyson Wallis, an instructor at Island Dojo Martial Arts Academy on Anna Maria Island.

The 16-year-old won the weapons division at 2009 Gator Nationals World Karate Championships at Daytona Beach in May.

She used a Japanese sword in the event.

She also took three second places in form, weapons and continuous fighting, and a third in point fighting.

More than 800 competitors filled the field.

Greyson is a student of karate master Kevin Bergquist and teaches at the academy.

n Manatee High School sophomore Matt Stephens threw out the first pitch when the Rays beat the Angels on June 10 at the Trop.

His catcher was Michel Hernandez.

Matt, 15, got the honor from grandma Carole Sicard, who won the prize in a contest at a Ray Fantasy Baseball Game.

On the field along with Matt for the first pitch were dad, Brian, brother, Ryan, and grands Mike and Carole.

His mom, Lori, sister, Elizabeth, aunt Kari McMillan and cousin Jessica were also at the game.

Vin’s People, by local columnist Vin Mannix, runs mid-week and Friday. E-mail him at