Nebraska Special Olympics Spring Games begin with bowling

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Members of Nebraska Special Olympics were in Lincoln on Friday to kick off the 2022 Spring Games.

The games began with bowling, and bowlers from all across the state gathered for the first time since 2019 at Sun Valley Lanes.

Nebraska Special Olympics hasn’t been able to have in person events for so long because of the pandemic, and the athletes were excited to be with their friends again.

Renee Harp of Grand Island said she loves to bowl with her Special Olympics friends.

Nate Parks, vice president of program for Special Olympics Nebraska, said they have about 1,200 bowlers competing each year.

Some of these athletes have been bowling since they were young.

Take Tencie Tonniges of Bayard, Nebraska, who said she can thank her family for getting into bowling.

“Growing up, I have always been a bowler,” she said.  “And the first sport I did for Special Olympics was actually bowling.  And so that was when I was a fifth grader, and so now I’ve continued to grow, and I really enjoyed the game.”

Tonniges is not only playing in these events today, but she is practicing for the USA 2022 Special Olympics Summer Games coming to Orlando in June.

She said she was so excited when she got the letter telling her she was going to Orlando.  This will be her first time at the USA games since 2014.

Parks said the Special Olympics are a great opportunity for people from all walks of life to compete.

“It’s about spreading inclusion and really just giving everybody an opportunity to be a part of a team and do something that they love to do,” he said.

For Tonniges, the Special Olympics is all about family, growth, community, integrity and honesty.  She said they always treat you like family, regardless of who you are.

The Special Olympics of Nebraska relies heavily on the community and volunteers.

If you’re interested in volunteering for any of the many events it holds every year, visit sone.org.

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