Tony Bowe, of Milford, was one of 10 Special Olympics athletes from around the country selected to take part in the Torch Run Final Leg at the Special Olympics 2014 USA Games. Sixty-eight athletes and Unified partners represented Team Delaware at the USA Games, held June 14 to 21 in Princeton, New Jersey, as more than 3,500 athletes from around the country competed in the event.
Born in Lincoln, DE in 1971, Bowe was diagnosed with Autism at the age of six. Attending the Stockley Center and Howard T. Ennis as a child, he was educated alongside with brother William, who was also diagnosed with Autism at the same age. In 1998 the pair asked their father if they could live together independently. Sixteen years later the two continue to live in Milford while working in Rehoboth during the day.
“At first it was one of the hardest things I had to do, letting them live independently, but they wanted to try it,” commented Bowe’s father. “I knew it is what they desired and we gave it a try.
Raising four sons, two of which were diagnosed with Autism, Tony’s father always made a point to include all of the boys in sports around the house including basketball, baseball and throwing around the football. At the age of 19 Tony started weightlifting as he began his partnership with the Special Olympics Delaware organization. Over the years Tony competed at state level competitions, winning three medals in powerlifting in 2011 alone. After hurting his back, Tony decided to pursue additional sports such as running, swimming and bowling through the Special Olympics program.
“The reason I like to run is because when I run I get to go sightseeing,” said Bowe. “I am exercising while taking an adventure. It keeps me fit and I like trying to beat my fastest time.”
Bowe was honored this year during the 31st Annual Torch Run of the Special Olympics 2014 USA Games when he was asked to participate in the final leg of the run and light the cauldron to start the Games. Representing the state of Delaware and adults with special needs from around the country, Bowe joined more than 100 officers representing all 50 states as the Torch Run traveled through three states over five days.
“I have been in a couple of torch runs but this time it was the final leg,” commented Bowe. “It felt great to run with law enforcement and I had a lot of fun running with the other athletes.”
Now acting as a coach and mentor for other athletes, Bowe now has the opportunity to help younger athletes as they compete at the Special Olympic Games. He still competes in running competitions and continues to run around his apartment complex on a daily basis. Tony works at Superfresh in Rehoboth Beach, taking the bus from Milford every day alongside his brother. He attributes his independent lifestyle to the men and women he has met through Special Olympics Delaware.
“I get to meet other athletes, friends and coaches that have helped me become a better person,” commented Bowe. “They want me to do well and improve.”