Unified bowling was a successful addition to last Saturday’s Ventura County regional bowling competition at Buena Lanes.
Unified bowling, which pairs individuals with and without intellectual disabilities together, was part of the morning’s team competition while the individual divisions took place in the afternoon session. In all, 120 bowlers split into teams of four filled 29 lanes in the morning and another 110 bowlers took part in the afternoon.
For the mother and daughter tandem of Denise and Amber Zavala, a day at the lanes has been part of their lives since Amber added bowling to her Special Olympics slate as a 14-year-old.
“I like bowling with my friends, and I like the game, in general,” said Amber, now 32, who has also participated in bocce, golf, and track and field. “[Unified bowling] has brought us closer together.
“[Special Olympics] has given me a sense of socialization.”
When Amber isn’t bowling for Special Olympics Ventura County, Denise said the two bowl in a year-round special needs league on Saturdays.
“It’s a lot of fun, something to do together,” she added.
Amber’s day included three strikes and a pair of spares in the last of three games. Her score of 134 for the game was her best performance of the three games, finishing with a total of 375 for the morning en route to a silver medal.
Competing in the same division were brothers Matthew and Thomas Folsom, both of whom compete in wheelchairs. They were joined by Unified partners Alex Uribe and Max Vazquez.
The four are linked together by the group SAGE, an in-home caregiver group that stands for Service to Achieve Growth and Empower. Alex and Matthew’s friendship goes back six years, and Alex remembers taking Matthew to an event in Fountain Valley five years ago.
For Max, it wasn’t just another day as a staff member.
“We’ve been working with them for years already,” he said. “It’s fun. It doesn’t even feel like work.”
The foursome took home the division’s gold medals.
Inside the SOSC is a blog managed by staff member Tracy McDannald. It is a more feature-style approach to looking inside what makes Special Olympics Southern California so unique, so special. It is meant to explore the people and their stories. One word at a time.