Striking Down Barriers

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:52

    SPARTA-The Sparta Bowling alley is teeming with excitement every Saturday as members of the SCARC inc., bowling league get together for lunch, good company and yes, some serious bowling. The bowling activity is one component of an extensive recreation program offered by SCARC inc. The informal league is comprised of members from various day programs, supervised living, and group homes from throughout the county. Some need assistance, while others are completely independent. However, just like any other bowlers, this group is hoping for strikes and high scores. "Look! Look at the score board, that's my name up there and I just got a strike", said on a recent Saturday a proud Bob Taylor of Sparta. Founded in 1957, SCARC is an organization that offers support and advocacy to persons with developmental disabilities and their families. According to Liz Christiensen, manager of the bowling alley, the group has a great turn out every week. "They all encourage and help each other. Some are just more disabled than others, but everyone has a good time," says Christiensen. "Some of the bowlers participate in tournaments and come in on Saturdays wearing their metals." To keep costs down for the organization, the bowling alley offers the less expensive league rate to the group. SCARC participants bowl from 12:30-2:30. The bowling alley's open bowling hours for the public begin at 2:30 on Saturday. Jennifer Frey, is the manager of the Hampton Group Home. All four of her residents participate in the Saturday sport. "My guys really look forward to going every week. And in some cases it's like the end of the world if they have to miss it for just one week. This is such a wonderful activity. They look forward to seeing other people they know each week," said Frey, adding that it especially makes the bowlers' day when family and friends stop by to say hello or to cheer them on. "They get a huge grin, their faces light up and they are just elated when someone they know comes by the bowling alley to visit." Camaraderie is in the air as bowler Chris Prout gets a hi-five from his dad, while across the lanes Carol Noble gets cheers after her name is announced for being a high scorer for the day. Nearby teammates wait patiently as Don Schug proudly displays his ball for a photographer's camera. "It's much more than bowling for them, it's a social event. Living in a group home, many of them see only the people they live with everyday. So this gives them the opportunity to socialize with other friends and meet other people outside of their own home," said recreation staff and coach, Sue Henion. Lori Bertoline whose brother Joe Wehmeyer is a regular bowler, stops by on Saturdays with her children. "We really look forward to visiting. They all want to shake hands and see the kids. They love having fans. It's great," says Bertoline.