"I'm going bowling with my dad!" That was my nine year old son's reaction to the big plans for today. There's a bowling alley in town near campus that hosts Unified bowling for Special Olympics, an organization that provides athletic opportunities with people with special needs. The organization is supported by volunteers and by fundraising efforts so it costs very little for athletes to participate. The only cost for us today was for drinks and snacks.
I forgot to tell my son that his bowling outing with his dad would be a practice session for Special Olympics, but it did not matter. My husband told me our son was excited to learn that the bowling was part of the program. Unified bowling is where the Special Olympians bowl with a family member or other volunteer. My Olympian had overheard me talking about Special Olympics awhile ago and decided right then and there he wanted to be a part of it.
My family has been bowling together before, but not without using the supports available for little kids. We've done bumper bowling and bowling with ramps. The Olympians, however, are discouraged from using those supports unless they physically need them.
Fortunately my young guy rose to the occasion and did not insist on using a ramp. He did his best, although he tended to get distracted between turns. His score was a 26. A perfect score in bowling is 300, but my guy's score wasn't bad considering I got a 10 when I first bowled as a ten year old. My husband scored a 76 which isn't bad either because he bowled his first game just a few months ago. Both of my guys will no doubt improve over the next few weeks during practice sessions. The big tournament is in April. Up until they'll be practicing during weekly 2-hour sessions.
In the Spring we'll probably try track. He'll do OK, because I need to wear running shoes (really) to keep up with him and his brother whenever we leave the house with me as guardian in charge. With any luck my little athlete will get to participate during the Special Olympics in the summer. Every June, as it has the last 35 years, Central Michigan University hosts Special Olympics for athletes from Michigan. The three or four day Olympics is great for our economy, but even greater for athletes like my son.