By Bridget Walsh
Remember competing against friends and family to see who could avoid throwing a gutter ball the longest? Or anxiously waiting to see who would record the first strike? How about the smell of rented shoes or the sound of today’s hits and yesterday’s favorites playing through the speakers?
For the approximately 350 participants at the Special Olympics bowling sectional, these memories and feelings are heightened in an intense competition to qualify for the state summer games at Pennsylvania State University.
On March 25, DeSales students and faculty along with other organizations in the Lehigh Valley joined together to help run the Special Olympics Eastern Regional Bowling Sectional. The athletes competed at three different lanes, including Jordan Lanes in Whitehall, the Haja Rose Bowl Lanes in Allentown and the Hampton Lanes in Northampton.
“I think the event went really well,” said committee member junior Hannah Pergolizzi. “The competition is divided between three bowling houses and it seemed to be successful at all three. The athletes had fun, were able to bowl and got their medals, which are the main goals of the day. Our committee members at all three venues received positive feedback from athletes, coaches and parents, which is always encouraging as well.”
Since the end of last semester, the committee members and volunteers for the Special Olympics worked tirelessly to prepare for the bowling sectional. This year has really showcased the hard work and dedication DeSales students put into this particular event, especially with such a positive response.
“There has been a lot of planning and preparation that has gone into the bowling sectional,” Pergolizzi said. “Our committee does everything from recruiting and training volunteers, to contacting local businesses for donations or sponsorships, to picking a theme and making countless decorations to get ready for the event. It is really exciting to see how everyone has a unique job to do, but in the end, they all come together to make the event run smoothly.”
Many of the volunteers expressed how much they enjoyed the event, from first time volunteers to committee members who have been working with Special Olympics for three or four years. Whether it was seeing participants throw a strike, score higher than their average, celebrate with the participants after every turn or even watch the participants receive their medals for competing, all involved at the bowling sectional had a time they will never forget.
“It makes all the hard work so worth it to see how happy they are to compete in their events,” Pergolizzi said. “In hosting these competitions, we can provide the athletes with the chance to succeed and excel in what they are good at.”
Despite planning the bowling sectional for the past few years, DeSales has been honored to plan and execute the Eastern Fall Sectional. This event includes various sporting events and hosts more than double the amount of participants as the bowling sectional.
“Moving forward we have some very exciting opportunities,” Pergolizzi said. “The fall sectional will include volleyball, bocce, powerlifting, long distance running/walking and soccer. It is a larger event with over 800 athletes, so we will need even more help from the committee and volunteers.”
Anyone interested in getting involved with the Special Olympics in preparation for the Eastern Regionals on Oct. 14, contact committee members Pergolizzi (email@example.com) or Sarah Knopp (firstname.lastname@example.org) for information and how to help.