Over the weekend, Special Olympics West Hawaii held its Area Games for bowling. Participants from Kona, Waimea, Waikoloa, and Hilo gathered to compete in this annual event. Originally held in Hilo, it is the qualifier for the Holiday Classic, Special Olympics Hawaii’s annual winter competition held on Oahu. Miss Aloha Hawaii, Keahi Delovio, opened with the National Anthem and Hawaii Ponoi.
Saturday’s event was for individual competition. Bowlers are grouped by division, according to their averages. Everyone was excited to be there with and for each other. After every throw, athletes would either hug or give high fives. My son, Cullen, put his “game face” on and kept up with his tough competitors. He had a lot of fun!
Like the day before, excitement and positive energy flowed during Sunday’s event for unified teams. Intended to encourage participation within schools and the community, Unified Sports was created as another division of the Special Olympics organization.
Teams are comprised of four people: Two SO athletes and two neurotypical peers. Cullen has a great teammate in “Duck”, an avid bowler from Waimea whose son is a participant on another team. Additional members Marinna and Jordan contributed heavily to the team’s blue ribbon performance for the day.
Cullen is the only participant from Hilo. When Hilo Lanes closed its doors for the last time we (I) had to make a decision to either have him bowl in Kona or learn a new sport – either bocce or basketball – in Hilo. After bowling since the age of nine and getting through a pretty successful tenure at Hilo High the decision was simple.
Many assume that the once-a-week drive is tedious and tiring but it isn’t. We have met a lot of great people and Cullen has made new friends during his two seasons of participation. Everyone is supportive of one another no matter what. It’s well worth the drive. XOXO, Jenn
P.S. Huge MAHALO to the volunteers who took time out of their weekends to help keep track of scores and monitor for any problems with the function of lanes. A successful event is accomplished when everyone works together, in the best interest of one another.
If you’re not familiar with Special Olympics Hawaii, please visit: http://www.specialolympicshawaii.org
To make a donation or become a volunteer, please contact your local delegation. Mahalo!