Wayne Flame Throwers burn bright at state Special Olympics bowling contest
This year was the first in many that Wayne had a Special Olympics bowling team. However, despite it's newness, it was clear the bowlers were at home on the lanes.
It had been some time since Special Olympics bowling was in Wayne, but as luck would have it, Aktion Club (a Kiwanis program for adults with disabilities) advisor Jeaney Harris learned the love for bowling was there for many of the athletes.
"At Christmas time we decided to have a bowling party and I learned at that time that a lot of these individuals had their own bowling balls, shoes, all of that and then I learned they used to have a Special Olympics bowling team," Harris said.
She decided it was time to bring bowling back. Wayne's Special Olympics bowling team was able to draw in 12 members this year: Taylor Brown, John McQuistian, Eric Boeckenhauer, Mitchell Dunn, Kevin Haglund, Jerrad Martin, Brian Mizner, Troy Volwiler, Cody Roberts, Jeremy Bauermeister, Rodney Bauermeister and Rodney Garwood. While the team was forming last fall, Harris reached out for donors.
"I reached out to my employer (Elkhorn Valley Bank) and asked for their support both financially and giving of my time and they were totally on board," Harris said. "They were the main donors that helped pay for league fees, uniforms, travel expenses and meals."
Through Harris' work finding donors and applying for grants, no athlete paid anything for team participation this year. After finding her potential bowlers and a very supportive donor, Harris reached out to Wayne State College for coaching help.
"I sent a message out on Cat Tracks and within an hour, Midge (Simmons) reached out to me and several students," Harris said.
Harris and Simmons were joined by three WSC students, volunteering as "coaches," not that many of her bowlers needed it, according to Harris.
"They're better than I am," Harris said. "A lot of them knew (what they were doing)."
With coaches lined up and athletes ready to hit the bowling alley, the Wayne Flame Throwers started bowling every Thursday from the beginning of October to the end of March. In January, the team ventured to Omaha for district bowling where 10 ended up qualifying for the state competition on March 29 and March 31. From the 10 Wayne Flame Throwers who competed, the team was able to bring home seven golds(team: Jerrad Martin, Mitchell Dunn and Kevin Haglund; and individuals: Rodney Garwood, Rodney Bauermeister and Cody Roberts), one silver (Jeremy Bauermeister) and two fourth-place blue ribbons (team of Brian Mizner and Troy Volwiler). The team was rightfully happy with their success.
"It was absolutely awesome," Harris said. "They were extremely happy to be down there."
Though the bowling season is over, Harris said the Flame Throwers will be back in action next year. Starting in July, those in the Wayne area can be on the look out for fundraisers like the Big Red Raffle.
"We sell raffle tickets and all the proceeds from the raffle that our team sells, goes to our team," Harris said.
Harris said they are open to volunteers for next year's team. If interested contact her at Elkhorn Valley Bank at (402) 375-2525.
"I think it's wonderful to volunteer and have a cause. This is my cause," Harris said.