Scoring a Strike—Special Olympics
Looking for a way to connect with his son who was learning disabled, Wayne Schmidt remembered the fun he had bowling when he was growing up. He began teaching his son the sport. Soon the son was playing better than the father—and others were noticing. "Who's his coach?" they would ask.
With his answer Wayne's life scored a strike! Soon he was coaching Special Olympic athletes in bowling for his community. As his teaching skill developed and the program grew to more than 60 special bowlers, he began coaching new coaches. Now, as head bowling coach for Team Florida, Wayne coaches on the county, area, state, and national level. At all levels Wayne, a volunteer himself, relies on other volunteers to make the games go smoothly and to help the athletes progress.
In addition to volunteer coaches, other volunteers manage the logistics of getting 60 bowlers to the right place at the right time. Some volunteers participate with the athletes in Unified Partner contests that pair a volunteer with an athlete for the event, and still others cheer all the athletes on, reminding each one that they are Olympians!
The ultimate objective of Special Olympics Florida is to help people with intellectual disabilities participate as productive and respected members of society at large, by offering them a fair opportunity to develop and demonstrate their skills and talents through sports training and competition, and by increasing the public’s awareness of their capabilities and needs. That's a goal that volunteers make possible—and everybody is a winner!
To find out more about Special Olympics in your state, visit specialolympics.org.