Special Olympics bowling league brings new athletes together

Joey focuses on his lane while he practices before the bowling event started Saturday at Limerick Bowl. The group of Special Olympics athletes will bowl for 15 weeks at the venue. (By Caroline Sweeney/21st Century Media)

LIMERICK — The loud music at the Limerick Bowl was nearly drowned out by the yells of excitement and chatter before the Montgomery County Chapter of the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania started its first bowling event Saturday morning.

More than 40 athletes signed up to participate in one of the organization’s most popular events.

But for leaders of the chapter, the large turnout and excited athletes were not the only positive.

“Most of the athletes here are new to the Special Olympics,” said Christine Anderson, who organized the 15-week-long bowling league.

“My son automatically bowls here on Saturdays in their regular leagues. One day I was looking at the site and saw that they needed somebody to take on the responsibility to put the program together.”

Anderson said that she did plan on getting new athletes into the bowling program when she took on the project.

“Part of our strategic plan is getting new athletes,” she said. “I knew that this was going to be a great opportunity.”

Scott Otterbein said that this is not the first time there has been a bowling league in the county, but this is the first time an organized league is being held at the Limerick Bowl.

“There had been a small program, but it was hit or miss at times,” he said.

Athletes, parents and guardians cheered as the torch made its way from the front doors toward the lanes. After the athlete pledge was read, the games began.

Marcy Hefelfinger, of Spring City, brought her daughter Mary to the event.

“She’s been in this organization for a good many years now,” Hefelfinger said about her daughter. Mary read the athlete pledge Saturday morning.

Hefelfinger said Mary bowled in Phoenixville and Downingtown before the Limerick event opened.

“This is so much closer for us, so we decided to come over and it has been just wonderful,” Hefelfinger.” She couldn’t wait to get here. She was so excited.”

Hefelfinger said Mary kept asking when the bowling events were going to start again. “She went to Penn State one year, and she is hoping to go again.”

Participants weren’t the only ones excited about the newest incarnation of the popular sport.

Vice President for Marketing and Development Eric Cushing said the event meets a need.

“This is simply because Christine took the initiative to get it done,” he said. “So far I think it is phenomenal.”