Student bowling league picks up county award

Members of the Lawrence Lightning Special Olympics Bowling League embrace at Curtis Lanes in Ewing, N.J. The group was honored as “Program of the Year” by Mercer County.

By Danielle Phillips

A bowling league made up of Rider students and Special Olympians from a local school district was honored as “Program of the Year” on Oct. 28, for its overall team performance and support of Special Olympics events year-round.

The Lawrence Lightning Special Olympics Bowling League, made up of 45 Rider students and 17 special Olympians from the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District, was recognized at the Mercer County Special Olympics Dinner Dance. The group gets together every week to build friendships and make connections over an enjoyable game of bowling at Curtis Lanes in Ewing.

Freshman Angela Buziak, a league member, finds that her time in the league is truly rewarding.

“Getting to know these athletes is an amazing experience because you get to see them grow and learn every week and it is nice to know that you may have had a little part in that,” Buziak said. “It is not only a great opportunity for us as students, but the athletes look forward to seeing and interacting with us every week also.”

The league was started seven years ago by Dr. Hope Corman, professor of economics; Dr. Michele Kamens, assistant professor of teacher education; and Dr. Chrystina Dolyniuk, assistant professor of psychology.

Corman’s 25-year-old daughter, Jessica Rockoff, who has Down Syndrome, is a participant in the program. It is Corman’s hope that young people with special needs can gain the social skills many lack by interacting with people their own age, she said.

“I am very proud of the athletes and students who have helped make this program such a success,” she said. “Our program is unique in that it is a ‘unified’ team, where special athletes and their age-appropriate peers engage in this sport and compete together. Being on a team with enthusiastic college students is what our special athletes find so wonderful.”

Freshman Rachel Werder agrees. She feels she has made an impact with the athletes in a huge way.

“We bowl with them because it’s fun and they enjoy spending time with people their own age,” Werder said. “It’s great to win an award for having fun every Monday. I’m glad we have made an impression and the athletes enjoy spending time with us.”

Participation is strictly voluntary, but the program has grown because of the dedication and enthusiasm of the students, Corman said.

“Our students are involved simply because they enjoy it,” she said. “Our special athletes love their company. I’ve got a dream team.”

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