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Santa visits Special Olympics bowlers

January 25, 2009

The Washington County Special Olympics tenpin bowling league has been operating for more than 20 years.

League members bowl every Saturday morning from mid-September through mid-April at Southside Bowl on Virginia Avenue in Halway.

The league started with only a handful of athletes and several coaches. It now operates with more than 40 athletes, 10 coaches and four substitute coaches.

About five years ago, the coaches got together and collected funds from families, coaches and support staff to organize an annual Christmas party for all of the athletes.

This year, league coordinators Kim and Wayne Needy also managed to arrange for Bud Kline to appear at the party as Santa Claus.

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Dennis Barthlow, coach and Ruritan Club zone governor, worked with the Downsville Ruritan Club to bring Ruritan mascot Rudy Bear to the party. Downsville Ruritan Club President Larry Plotner, along with fellow members Richard Trott, Eston Leatherman, Don and Mary Weicht and Truman Tolley (also a bowling coach), participated in the festivities.

Mary Weicht appeared as Rudy Bear.

Santa and Rudy Bear worked together to bring laughter and a good time to all. Santa handed out personalized bowling towels, bought and personalized by coach Melinda Tolley. Rudy handed out small Rudy Bear figures to all athletes. Athletes and coaches were treated to hot dogs, cupcakes and soda, all donated by the bowling alley staff. Snacks and doughnuts were provided by coaches and families.

All members of the bowling league, along with coaches and families, would like to thank Bud Kline and the members of the Downsville Ruritan Club for participating in the holiday celebrations and bringing happiness to all.

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