Wii workouts pay off for Special Olympians

Joseph Hedges and Justin Ward got in a little practice before Sunday’s Special Olympics Western Area Bowling Tournament.

“Some nights we bowl together on Justin’s Wii (game system),” Hedges said.

The two play Wii bowling frequently at Ward’s house in Grand Junction.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Hedges said.

Their practice paid off. Hedges and Ward both took fourth place in their respective divisions in singles competition.

Some 200 bowlers from Grand Junction, Delta and Montrose gathered at Orchard Mesa Lanes for one of three Special Olympics area bowling tournaments on the Western Slope. Athletes participated in singles, team and ramp events.

The event was sponsored by American National Bank, Orchard Mesa Lanes and the Grand Junction Knights of Columbus.

“We culminate with the Fall Classic state competition in Denver in November,” Special Olympics Area Coordinator Julie Fite said.

Some 50 Grand Junction-area athletes will travel to Denver to compete in state bowling and volleyball competition next month. Athletes don’t have to finish first in order to qualify for the state games; they need only to participate in an area tournament.

Hedges also plays basketball and skis, but bowling, something he’s done all his life, presents a different challenge.

“You have to focus on what to do,” he said.

“It’s a lot of effort being here,” Hedges said.

But there is the positive side.

“It’s fun to hang out with friends,” he said.

That includes his good buddy Ward, who, like Hedges, has been bowling for most of his life.

“It’s not a challenge for me,” said Ward, who just enjoys the sport because it’s fun. “I’ll do it the rest of my life.”

For others participating in Sunday’s area tournament, bowling offered therapy.

Robert Pratt of Clifton had a heart attack and another heart incident about six months ago. Doctors had to clear blockage in his arteries.

“I feel better,” Pratt said. “I’m doing therapy right now.”

Bowling has given him a chance to do something active.

“It’s fun,” Pratt said. “It’s always a challenge.”

He and his two sisters used to bowl together when they were younger. His sisters got married and their interests went another direction.

Pratt only took the sport up again only about a year ago. Even with little practice, he finished second in his division.

Now he hopes he can get his sisters to take him to the lanes more frequently.


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