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Cliff Anderson Bowling

January 29, 2011|By LINDA NORRIS | Meritus Media Relations

Cliff Anderson emerged from months of hospitalization in 2006 after a coma and injuries including a crushed pelvis left his right side paralyzed. People told him that his 40-year-bowling career was over.

But on a day in June 2010, Cliff threw a bowling ball down the alley at Dual Lanes, Hagerstown, for the first time since his accident. There were tears in his eyes.

“Everyone stopped what they were doing and came over to watch,” said the 64-year-old retired Army first sergeant and truck driver. “And then, they all clapped. It’s the most amazing ball I ever rolled; the excitement was indescribable.”

Since then, he has completed an entire league season, continues to practice his bowling game each Thursday, and keeps coaching “my kids,” who range from age 9 to 90, he jokes. He credits his success to personal determination, his Dual Lanes coach, Bobby Bonebrake, and the cheers of people at Total Rehab Care at Robinwood, part of Meritus Health.

“All the rehab patients and staff in ‘201’ have been a part of my recovery,” he said, referring to the Robinwood Center. “I told them ‘I’m going to walk,’ and they all encouraged me. I can never repay Total Rehab.”

The nearly lifelong tenpins bowler has spent many hours in the Robinwood center — both recovering and helping others recover. He now coaches bowlers not only at Dual Lanes, but also coaches stroke patients, the Spinal Cord Injury Support Group and other support groups needing his positive outlook at Robinwood.

“I help out with the stroke and spinal cord support groups, and people say to me, ‘I can't,’” he said. “I say ‘you can’ and they say, ‘show me.’”

His positive attitude and enthusiasm for bowling is so infectious that he’s even taken the stroke support group to the bowling alley to see what he does. Now, he says, “they’ve become addicted. Some are quads (quadriplegics) and use a ramp to bowl, but they’re doing it.”

To the observer, Cliff is a study in patience and good humor as he hoists the ball from his perch in his chair.

“My team is great. They accommodate me, and they let me bowl two frames at a time!” he said.

He doesn’t expect to ever stop coaching people to bowl, or stop persevering against the odds when people say things can’t be done.

 “If you think you can’t, then you won’t,” he said. “If you don’t try, you’ll be in a wheelchair or locked up in a house where you can’t do a damned thing for yourself.”

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