Students Compete in Special Olympics Texas

by Kirby Gibbs

Lufkin, TX (KTRE) - "Bring it on," says one local high school athlete and with that, today's bowling competition at Lufkin Lanes began. This healthy competition has helped to turn these special athletes into champions.

"It's good just bowling, getting a lot of strikes and stuff it's nice." says Heather Gardner, a Special Olympic athelete. For Heather, it sure is nice. She's one of the top special athletes in the state. And while she's a tough competitor, on this day, she's also up against a lot of school pride.

One Coach says that "These are athletes, these are Lufkin Panther athletes. Lufkin needs to be very proud of these athletes. This is like the superbowl"!

The Special Olympics of Texas allows students with special needs to develop physical fitness , demonstrate courage and have fun in the process. For this competition schools from Central, Broaddus, Hudson, Huntington, and Lufkin competed.

another coach of Central, Debbie Curry says, "it really gives these athletes an opportunity to shine and to do something on their level and to do something on their level and to be successful at it; feel really good about themselves and then bowling is a sport they can do for the rest of their lives".

When i asked Heather Gardener, one of the Olympic athletes what she has learned throughout these competitions she said, "that I'm a good bowler".

Not only do students learn what sports they're good at but they also learn other skills that will help them throughout life. Coach Guyla Bryan of Lufkin high School said that, "Students learn team work, they learn to work together, they learn wonderful behavioral aspects of just intermingling with other students they learn self-discipline. It builds confidence. This is a wonderful program".

Volunteer Junelle Merritt told KTRE that she just likes how the community is getting involved in special olympics and they don't let other kids feel neglected. They make sure the kids feel loved. In these olympics, every athlete is a winner.