By Terry Rogers
Throughout the state, Delaware Special Olympics held their Annual Bowling Tournaments. The State Tournament was held Saturday, February 18 in Dover. School Tournaments were held over the following week with two at Milford Bowling Lanes. Students from Lulu M. Ross Elementary School, Milford Central Academy and Benjamin Banneker Elementary School participated in the February 21 event at Milford Bowling Lanes, many earning First, Second and Third Place awards.
The events were kicked off with members of the Delaware State Police and Milford Police Department carrying the Special Olympic Torch across the lanes with athletes participating in the bowling tournament assisting. The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is designed to raise awareness for the athletes. It began in 1981 when Wichita, Kansas, Police Chief Richard LaMunyon created the event to allow law enforcement to be involved in the program. It was endorsed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in 1983. It is the largest public awareness and fundraising event for the Special Olympics.
“The torch represents a year-long effort with officers from many municipalities joining forces to raise over $8 million,” Jon Buzby, Director of Media Relations for Special Olympics, said. “The officers who participate at each of the games pass the torch to one of our athletes who carries it to start the event.” Adam Elliott of Kent County Community School carried the torch on February 28. Noah Bunch of Stokes Elementary read the Special Olympics oath just prior to the passing of the torch.
According to Mr. Buzby, more than 150 athletes participated at each bowling event representing students from second through eighth grade. “The Bowling Tournaments are our largest Special Olympics event,” Mr. Buzby said. “Students are joined by coaches who provide them with motivation and support. Athletes compete as singles and unified doubles. Athletes who need them are permitted to use ramps or bumpers, but they cannot use both. There is also a Motor Activity Training Program offered for athletes.”
The mission and vision of Special Olympics is to provide year round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for those with intellectual disabilities. The organization has sharpened the focus on its mission as one that is critical for children and adults with such disabilities as well as a catalyst for social change.
“There are 19 different sports for athletes, ranging from bowling to powerlifting to skiing,” Mr. Buzby said. “Competitions are held at the school, area, state, national and even world level. All sports are similar to those held during the Olympic games with medals awarded in a similar fashion as well.”
Winners of the events held at the various events can be found on the Special Olympics Delaware website.