Each Wednesday, athletes from Williams Lake meet for an afternoon of socializing, competition and fun at Cariboo Bowling Lanes.
The Special Olympics Williams Lake Bowling program, which began on the first Wednesday of the month and runs through the fall and winter, saw friendly smiles, high fives of congratulation and a noticeable swagger from competitors of all ages at the bowling alley.
Cheryl Chan is coaching this year’s Special Olympics bowling program. Her son, Austin Weber, is a Special Olympics snowshoe athlete who has competed provincially and, in February of 2020, will snowshoe at the 2020 Special Olympics Canada National Winter Games in Thunder Bay, Ont.
“It’s my first time coaching bowling but I’m glad that I did,” she said, pointing to upwards of 20 athletes who were out for a regular Wednesday bowling session.
“It’s probably one of the best attended sports for the athletes.”
While also providing great entertainment, bowlers get a chance to mingle and socialize during each session, which runs from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
James Inglis is one of the participants, and said he’s been bowling with Special Olympics for the past six years.
“I just like to meet all the people here,” Inglis said. “I’ve made lots of friends here [over the years], and I’ve gotten better at bowling, too. It’s a lot of fun.”
Austin, meanwhile, said he looks forward to competing in upcoming bowling tournaments — one planned at Quesnel and, another, potentially in 100 Mile House.
His best score, he said, was an incredible 291-point game.
“I’ve been with these guys for years,” he said. “The tournaments are the best.”
Miranda Bailey, 27, said she has been bowling for the past six years, and it’s one of several Special Olympics activities she enjoys taking part in in Williams Lake.
“It’s just fun,” she said. “I like bowling, I like swimming, I like bike riding and walking the dog. All these people are awesome.”
Chan added it’s the social aspect she sees as the most advantageous for athletes.
“It really gives them a kind of place in the community where they can be a part of something,” Chan said.
“They may not all be competitive but they don’t have to be here. It’s fun and it’s fair and everybody’s included.”
For anyone interested in participating in the Special Olympics Bowling Program they are invited to drop by Cariboo Bowling Lanes on Wednesdays at 3 p.m. where registration gets underway.
For more information contact Chan at 250-267-8105 or Williams Lake Special Olympics local co-ordinator Monique Goward at 250-267-3369.