Local bowlers excel at Special Olympics

A group of local bowlers recently traveled to Reno, Nev., and brought back a lot of hardware as part of the Special Olympics National Unified Bowling Tournament.

The Shelby County Unified Bowlers, who bowl at Oak Mountain Lanes, qualified for the national tournament after hosting the state tournament.

Gay Litton, the director of the Shelby County Special Olympics, said nearly every participant took home either a gold, silver or bronze medal during the two-day event.

“The athletes performed well, but more importantly they represented Shelby County well,” Litton said.

The trip was made possible with help from Atrox and Children’s Charities Inc.

“The help they provide allows us to take the athletes and do the things that we would like to do,” Litton said.

Henrietta Davis, whose son, Wynn, participated in the event, said the Shelby County bowlers were treated with enormous respect and like first-class athletes.

“It was just awesome,” Davis said.

When the athletes arrived in Reno, their names were displayed on the hotel marquee, the bowlers entered the arena to the Rolling Stones’ hit song “Start Me Up” and the pilot on the flight home even announced to the passengers that Olympic medalists were present, which drew a round of applause.

“They felt pretty special,” Davis said.

And while the trip was fun for all the participants and families involved, Litton said the bowlers got serious when it was time to compete.

“We saw some wonderful bowling performances on this trip,” Litton said.

Wynn was one of the athletes who excelled in the tournament, and his mother said he and the other bowlers love the competition.

“They are very competitive. (Wynn) loves to win,” Davis said. “They strive to be better and compete and win.”

Litton said the trip was a huge success not only because of what happened on the lanes, but because of all the support involved.

“We had a lot of family support on this trip,” Litton said. “It gave the families an opportunity to celebrate the gifts of their athletes.”

The trip also gave the bowlers a chance to be like everyone else.

“Bowling is a very appropriate leisure lifetime activity,” Litton said. “It provides them opportunities to be included like everyone else.”

The bowlers who participated in the Olympics were: Kim Burks, Rusty Montgomery, Wynn Davis, Malone Morgan, Allen DeVore, Steve Norby, Richard Cain, Amie Windom, Stephanie Gurley, Matt Sullivan, Michael Boroughs and Jennie Morrison.

The partners who participated were: Judy Winslett, David Litton, Patrick Lewis, Andy Litton, Taylor Sullivan, Holly Stevens, Christy Ludwig, Michael Ludwig, Dana Johnson, Jeff Byers, David Hasenbein and Ann Bishop.