Bowling is a sport for all during the Special Olympics BC Winter Games. (Photo submitted)

Bowling lanes ready for Vernon’s Special Olympics BC Winter Games

Special Olympics get underway Feb. 21

Bowlers are set to topple pins and inspire spectators at 2019 Special Olympics BC Winter Games.

An enthusiastic supporter of Special Olympics, Gord Wiffen can’t wait to see bowlers give their all at the 2019 Special Olympics BC Winter Games, taking place in Greater Vernon Feb. 21 to 23.

“I love to watch the competition and the athletes just get so excited,” he says. “I don’t think there is anybody who tries harder or has a bigger heart than those athletes. They are just amazing, they really are.”

The event will see more than 600 athletes with intellectual disabilities from around the province compete in eight sports. It will also mark the debut of 5-pin bowling at Special Olympics BC Winter Games, as it was previously part of the summer sports cycle. Vernon’s Lincoln Lanes, which is owned by Wiffen and his sister Sandi Soroka, will host the sport.

“It’s quite an honour,” Wiffen says “We are excited to be involved.”

Lincoln Lanes has a long history of supporting Special Olympics. The facility is home to Special Olympics BC – Vernon’s year-round bowling program, and its athletes have been throwing strikes and spares at Lincoln Lanes for almost 35 years.

Wiffen has coached bowling and softball with Special Olympics and says he always enjoys spending time with the organization’s dedicated volunteers.

“They are amazing,” he says. “We have had some fantastic people who have given their time to make it happen.”

Related: Volunteers sought

Related: Winter Games will be biggest ever

A big reason Wiffen loves bowling is because people of all ages and abilities can play together. He says bowling’s inclusive nature fits well with the spirit of Special Olympics, and the sport gives athletes opportunities to meet new people and be part of a bigger community.

Special Olympics BC – Kelowna athlete Parker Begg is one of more than 130 bowlers who will converge on Lincoln Lanes for Provincial Games. He has been training hard and will compete with the Region 2 team, which is comprised of athletes from the Okanagan.

“I am so excited,” Begg says.

Begg has been a Special Olympics athlete for 10 years and this will be his first Provincial Games. He’s pumped to meet new people and spend time with his teammates. He also says the event will give him an opportunity to be more independent, as this will be his first time away from home. Begg says his goal for the Games is to make his team proud.

“I want to win and try my best,” he says.

Wiffen encourages people in his community to come out and watch hardworking athletes like Begg compete with pride during Games.

“Come out and watch and have a good time and enjoy, because it’s good entertainment – it really is,” Wiffen says. “You won’t see anybody not trying their hardest, that’s for sure.”

The 2019 Special Olympics BC Winter Games is looking for volunteers, and Wiffen says volunteering is a great way to experience this inspiring event. “It’s very rewarding to work with the athletes, it’s a very worthy cause,” he says.

Volunteer registration is available at www.sobcgamesvernon.ca, or at the 2019 Special Olympics BC Winter Games office, located at VantageOne Credit Union, 3108 33 Avenue.


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