Friday, June 24, 2022 |
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LIHU‘E — The Lihu‘e Bowling Center was the alive with the sights and sounds of a real tournament over the weekend as Kaua‘i Special Olympics athletes and their supporters took to the lanes for two days of bowling.
“We’ve got everybody here helping,” said Ralph Suniga, manager of the Coca Cola Kaua‘i distributing firm. “This is a national Coke initiative, but I didn’t have any problem getting our staff to come out and help. We’ll be here the whole day.”
The volunteers donned special Coke identifying shirts and spread across more than 10 lanes, which were filled with Kaua‘i Special Olympics athletes, some of whom opted not to bowl.
“I’ve got to do duty at the football game,” said Kylie Moniz, a former weight-lifting medalist for the Kaua‘i Special Olympics. “I might not make it in time if I was bowling, so I’ll just do the game. You’ll see my father, there. He said he was going to drop in.”
Jocelyn Barriga, the Kaua‘i Special Olympics coordinator, said Saturday’s bowling involved just the Kaua‘i Special Olympics athletes and their supporters.
“Sunday, we’ll have ‘Unified’ bowling where a group of four bowlers includes two Special Olympics athletes,” Barriga said. “The remaining two bowlers are usually their high school counterparts. You’ll see a lot of the high school kids come out.”
Athletes who needed assistance in having fun were accommodated at one section of the bowling alley where special rigs were set up on the lanes to assist the athletes in their release, many getting coached by the community volunteers, who filled the alley with cheers of encouragement, adding to the exciting cheers of Special Olympic athletes who celebrated their respective strikes, spares and other special feats.
Over the past 40 years, Special Olympics has grown from a modest program serving local athletes to become the world’s largest movement dedicated to promoting respect, acceptance, inclusion and human dignity for people with intellectual disabilities through sports, states a Special Olympics release.
Special Olympics is a movement through which the power of sports transforms the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and also unites everyone by fostering community-building and civil society.
Special Olympics’ mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports, including bowling and swimming, for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
Call Barriga at 652-8662 to enroll an athlete or to become a volunteer for any of the Kaua‘i Special Olympics programs.
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