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Bowling tournament raises money for Special Olympics

Greeley Tribune - 2/26/2017

Feb. 26--Chris Windedahl exchanged high fives with his teammate Larry Schank after knocking down pins at a bowling tournament Saturday afternoon.

The tournament, held at Highland Park Lanes, 1900 59th Ave., was organized to raise money for the Northeast Colorado Special Olympics.

Windedahl bowls for the Greeley Panthers, a team of 65 athletes who participate in Special Olympics, whether volunteering, bowling or playing other sports. For Windedahl, bowling provides a unique opportunity.

"You get to meet a whole bunch of different people. It's really nice to interact with everybody -- different cultures, different ethnicities and different bowlers -- just watching everybody bowl differently," he said.

As 26-year-old Windedahl joked with Schank, 64, they proved the team's ability to bring people of different backgrounds together. The tournament, now in its third year, had raised more than $11,000 just one hour into the event. The bowling tournament filled all 32 lanes with participating teams. A silent auction and raffle held throughout the tournament raised additional money. Organizers set a goal of $13,000 for this year, but were unable to provide a finally tally Saturday. It costs $255 to fund the training and competition for one athlete each season.

Becky Hoffman, 55, participated in the tournament with teammates from her bowling league team. She sold cinnamon candy to raise an extra $200 to donate at the tournament. She sold her suckers, shot glasses, heart candies and cinnamon chews as far as California, Louisiana and even Germany.

"I have been making cinnamon candy for 40 years. It was my dad's recipe. Every year it's gotten bigger and bigger," she said. "It's something my dad gave me before he passed away, and I just wanted to share."

Sandy Merritt, the head coach for the Greeley Panthers, said that more guests attended the fundraiser this year. More guests provide more opportunities to raise money with the silent auction and the raffle..

"It all started with the bowling team, which is why we do the bowling fundraiser. The northeast area has a lot of bowling athletes. It's the largest sport in the northeast area," Merritt explained.

Windedahl said he appreciates the chance to interact with other people at the Special Olympics.

"You get to interact with not just people without disabilities, but with disabilities. You can sit there and help them out when they need help," he said. "It's fun all the way around being able to interact with everybody."

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(c)2017 the Greeley Tribune (Greeley, Colo.)

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