Volunteers keep Special Olympics rolling

January 11, 1997


Staff Writer

The bowling fun on Saturday morning has become routine for Williamsport couple John and Audrey Bowman and their son Matt.

Recently selected as the 1996 family of the year by the Maryland State Special Olympics, the Bowmans have been actively involved with the program for a dozen years.

John and Audrey Bowman each coach five Special Olympic sports, and their son, Matt, 20, who has Down syndrome, participates in the activities.

Tenpin bowling, however, is Matt's favorite sport.

"I have lots of fun," he said, as he joined 32 other athletes at the Southside Bowl on Virginia Avenue.

David Blitz, 24, of Hagerstown started bowling this year with the other Special Olympic participants.

"The best part is making friends," he said.

The Bowmans, like other Special Olympic volunteers, encourage and support the athletes.


"It's satisfying to see a kid do something they thought they couldn't do and to see them enjoying the things that normal kids take for granted," John Bowman said.

As for the special award bestowed on his family, he said, "Each and every person who works in this program deserves this."

The Bowmans said the award came as a surprise when it was bestowed upon them at the recent state conference.

Audrey Bowman said she delights in watching the successes of the Special Olympic participants.

"Seeing the joy on their faces when they're having a good time and watching their accomplishments make it all worthwhile," she said.

John Bowman said his most gratifying experience came when a girl, who was confined to a wheelchair, joined the Special Olympics aquatics program and managed to swim the entire length of the pool with assistance.

Audrey and John Bowman have been dedicated to Special Olympics for the past 12 years and said they should have gotten involved sooner.

Matt was 9 years old when they joined the program, Audrey Bowman said.

Some Special Olympic athletes get involved as young as 5, she said.

Marva Davis of Hagerstown was also recognized at the recent Special Olympics conference as the state's outstanding area coordinator, according to Carolyn Blitz, spokeswoman for the Washington County Special Olympics.

Top corporate sponsor statewide was Hagerstown Trust, which became the official sponsor last year of the Washington County Special Olympics.

Special Olympics is a nonprofit organization that provides year-round sports training and competitions for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Activities include basketball, bowling, soccer, swimming, volleyball and track and field.

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