Special Olympics celebrates 20 years of bowling

By Jennifer Lassiter
star staff

  JOHNSON CITY -- Celebrating over 20 years of Special Olympics bowling, high school and adult Olympians warmed up before the games on Tuesday to the sweet familiar sound of "Rocky Top."
  Olympians also danced to the beat of Aerosmith's "Dude Looks Like a Lady" under the dimmed black lights at Holiday Lanes in Johnson City. Led by Davey Crockett cheerleaders, Olympians loosened up their muscles in preparation of the games. Staff, teachers, volunteers and family members joined in during the opening ceremony creating a truly special atmosphere.
  Charles Dabb led the opening ceremony speech while fellow Olympians repeated his words of wisdom.
  "Let me win. If I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt," announced Dabb as fellow Olympians chimed in with anticipation.
  With approximately 175 athletes at Holiday Lanes in Johnson City representing Area III, including Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties, the lanes were overflowing with athletes and volunteers.
  Although there was a short delay because of busing logistics, Deborah Grant, event organizer, was excited about the annual event. "We all look forward to coming out here every year," she said.
  This year's event included a progressive approach to team bowling. Unaka High School football players paired with special education students in lanes five and six to create a more competitive cooperative approach to unified bowling.
  Seniors from Unaka High cheered the Olympians as they took turns rolling the ball down the glossy lanes. Travis Pasqule, 17, and Charles Lee Guinn, 17, were more than willing to come out and help with the Special Olympics Bowling Games.
  The Bowling Games are one of the fastest growing sports within the Special Olympics Program with over 126,000 athletes competing in the United States and 20 counties.
  "We are extremely proud of all the athletes who have come out year after year to compete in such a great sport. Through their enthusiasm this event has grown beyond our expectations," said Jay Wright, Area Director. The event allows our athletes to perform not only on an individual level, but also as a team member.