Bowling competition marks Special Olympics Wood Buffalo's return

Athlete Chantelle Kidd bowls during the first Special Olympics bowling event at The Alley in Fort McMurray on Tuesday, January 9, 2019. Laura Beamish/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network jpg, FM

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Special Olympics Wood Buffalo’s return to the community’s sports community could be heard with the clatter of bowling pins.

The organization made its athletic debut on Jan. 9 with a bowling competition at The Alley, after it officially returned to Wood Buffalo in December.

Special Olympic programming was available in Fort McMurray until 2011. After the community’s only bowling alley at the time closed, their most popular sport ended and programming stagnated afterwards.

Seven athletes competed at the event and said they were excited for the organization’s return to Wood Buffalo.

One of those athletes, Chantelle Kidd, has spina bifida and scoliosis. She said she used to need a walker, but swimming when she was younger helped build her strength.

“I’ve been patiently waiting and we’re very excited,” she said. “It definitely helps build relationships and bonds with other people that have special needs or disabilities.”

Monique Gauthier, mother of 18-year-old athlete Colt Wendel, said playing sports has helped with his development and independence.

“It gives them that confidence to try something new, to try harder, to try and do better than they did yesterday,” she said. “When they’re given an opportunity to compete like this, they get to compete with teams and be at the top.”

One of Wendel’s favourite sports is football. Although he is not always on the field when he plays at school, Gauthier said he’s always in the practices.

“He’s always included and that’s a big thing,” she said.

Special Olympics Wood Buffalo has already established bowling and power lifting programs.

Organizers and athletes are already thinking of other sports they would like to see supported by the organization. These include swimming, floor hockey, softball, curling, and track and field.

Special Olympics Wood Buffalo will hold their first annual general meeting on January 16 at the Unifor building. The organization hopes to elect a committee, as well as sign up and organize volunteers and coaches.

lbeamish@postmedia.com

Athlete Dale Bauld shows off his trophy and medals during the first Special Olympics bowling event at The Alley in Fort McMurray on Tuesday, January 9, 2019. Laura Beamish/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network jpg, FM

Athletes gather to bowl during the first Special Olympics bowling event at The Alley in Fort McMurray on Tuesday, January 9, 2019. Laura Beamish/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network jpg, FM

Athletes Guy Vochon (left) and Dallas Moore speak to reporters during the first Special Olympics bowling event at The Alley in Fort McMurray on Tuesday, January 9, 2019. Laura Beamish/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network jpg, FM

Athletes Colt Wendel (left) and Carson Stagg speak to reporters during the first Special Olympics bowling event at The Alley in Fort McMurray on Tuesday, January 9, 2019. Laura Beamish/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network jpg, FM

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