Special Olympians bowled over by fun

Published 6:59 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2011

THE SPECIAL OLYMPIANS pose for a group shot after their fun day of bowling.

Almost 50 adults with developmental disabilities enjoyed a morning of strikes, spares and smiles Saturday morning as they participated in the second annual Special Olympics bowling event.

The event was again held at the Langston-Gray YMCA Bowling Center, as the Special Olympians filled nearly every lane and the sounds of excitement and cheers filled the air for several hours.

“I got them all,” Gwen Jones cheered out, after she knocked down two pins to fill out a spare. “I told you I’d get them all!”

While the lanes had bumpers set up along the gutters, many of the bowlers didn’t even need to use them. Harold Mosley finished one of his games with a score of 142, closing out his last two frames with a strike in the ninth and a strike and spare in the 10th.

“I did good, didn’t I?” he asked with a smile. “I like to bowl the strikes.”

Some of the bowlers rolled with one hand, while others used both hands and pushed the ball forward. Special rolling ramps even allowed for the Special Olympians that couldn’t walk to join in the fun.

“I just love this group of people,” said volunteer Joanie Williams. “They’re so loving and friendly. They really are special people.”

The bowlers shared cheers and high-fives with each other after good rolls, and at the end of the day the top scorers in each age group won ribbons and the chance to stand on a medalists’ platform. All participants also earned ribbons just for playing.

“We could not do events like this without the tremendous amount of volunteers who help,” said Jim Beck, chairman of the local Special Olympics’ board of directors. “There are also countless private donors and industries who have made donations to help keep our budget going. The Special Olympics has already been a really good thing for Decatur County.”

Beck said other scheduled events include the Snowflake Ball, which is typically held in January, and the track and field events, which were held earlier this year in May. Also, younger Special Olympians will participate in a bowling event in November.

“The Snowflake Ball is truly a special event,” Beck said. “We treat it like a school prom, because a lot of these folks never had the chance to attend a prom or anything like that when they were younger. We have a DJ and a dance, and a lot of them even wear tuxes and arrive in limos. You’ve never seen dancing until you’ve seen these guys dance.”

Kristie Gilley, a volunteer, said she could think of no better way to spend her Saturday morning.

“They love you for who you are,” she said. “They don’t care what kind of clothes you wear, or what kind of car you drive or how much is in your bank account.”

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