Two different stories crossed our desks here in the newsroom within the span of one week, prompting a consensus among everyone who was working here those nights. It’s wonderful that volunteers are taking the time to introduce fun, healthy activities to young people that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives.
The first occurred just over a week ago when reporter Joe Sylvester returned to the newsroom to tell us about the 16th annual Special Olympics Bocce Ball Bash at Bloomsburg University, co-hosted by the BU chapter of the Student Council for Exceptional Children and Special Olympics Pennsylvania in Columbia in Montour counties.
University athletes, coaches, family members and about 170 student volunteers filled the university fieldhouse, where the gym floor was sectioned off into separate bocce lanes — all set up and ready for more than 400 Special Olympics athletes from 20 counties who came to Bloomsburg for the statewide event.
Bocce ball, also known as Italian lawn bowling, is one of the most popular outdoor games in the world. A small “target” ball, called a pallina, is thrown out first, then teams toss four larger balls with the goal of landing them closest to the pallina.
Pat Herrick, head coach of the Northumberland and Snyder County Special Olympics bocce teams, noted that bocce ball is a sport that anyone can enjoy at any age.
Seven days later — this past Sunday — Joe Sylvester was on the move again, this time meeting up with more than 50 members of the Strikers bowling team gathered at the Best Bowl near Selinsgrove for their final games of the fall season.
Nearly a decade ago, Susan Bolig, of Selinsgrove, was looking for an activity for her son, who has autism, and for other special needs children in the area.
“I just wanted to find an activity for children with special needs,” she said. “I wanted them to feel like they were on a team.”
The first team she organized had 25 bowlers and it has grown over the past nine years to 57 participants. It is open to special needs kids up to age 21, and her son, Ryan, who is now 18, is still a member and active participant in this lifetime sport.
“I don’t care what their medical condition is and what their needs are,” she said as the kids knocked down the pins on Sunday afternoon. “It is nice to see the growth of the kids. They help each other.”
Helping each other. That’s just what all of these volunteers, and those who organize similar programs are doing when they give their time to develop interests and activities that young people can enjoy for the remainder of their lives.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher and top newsroom executives. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.