Special Olympics filling void after Border Bowl closure

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June 2, 2015 8:15 AM

Photo Submitted Jeremy Donyliw and the rest of the Special Olympics Lloydminster athletes are in need of a new sport and venue after Border Bowl ceased operations on May 29. - Supplied

The closure of Border Bowl is hitting home hard for Special Olympics Lloydminster.

“They’re just really upset about it. It’s their whole lives, that’s all they get for recreation around here,” said Carmen Patry, chairperson of Special Olympics Lloydminster.

Border Bowl, which was the only bowling alley in Lloydminster, ceased operations on May 29 after giving about one week of advanced notice. The closure is a serious blow to Special Olympics, which used the alley frequently.

Patry and her staff are now looking at other feasible sports, such as ball hockey and snowshoeing, but she says nothing will match the compatibility of bowling.

“Bowling is just something that everyone can do. Everyone can participate, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a wheelchair, or if you can’t bowl with one hand you’ve got the (ramp),” she explained.

“Some of them can’t run. Hot and cold affects them, so if I’m going to try to do something outside with them in the winter, it’s going to be limited what days we’re going to be able to do the things outside. I really want to keep it inside if I can, and it’s safer because a lot of them are a little off balance and could slip on the ice or trip.”

In addition to needing a new sport, Patry also needs to find a venue to host it. She says she inquired about renting part of the Servus Sports Centre, but a lack of weekday availability squashed those hopes. She’s also asked city hall for help, but that hasn’t led to any resolutions thus far.

“If anybody has a facility, I do have the money to rent it for them,” Patry said. “And I do have money to buy equipment if I need to.”

As Monday night bowling was their signature event, Patry says the members were extremely disappointed to learn of Border Bowl closing down. Bowling has been such a hit with Special Olympics, in fact, that the organization has raised money in the past to purchase new bowling balls and shoes.

“They just got bowling balls at Christmas with their initials on them and they were so proud of them,” Patry said. “When they come to me, they’re just so upset. And, of course, once they’re doing something like this, to change it up on them is really hard. They really don’t like change, nobody does, but they take it extra hard. And especially when it’s the only outing that they really can do that’s a lot of fun, it’s just difficult.”

Since Special Olympics does not bowl during the summer, Patry has until September to put together a new plan.

In the meantime, “I’m hoping somebody will maybe want to build (a new bowling alley),” she said. “It was a busy place.”

Special Olympics organizes athletic activities for people with intellectual disabilities. The Lloydminster chapter currently has about 45 athletes between the ages of 17 and 70 enrolled.

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