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Special Olympics bowlers practice for tournament in Indy

Herald Bulletin - 3/26/2018

March 26--ANDERSON -- As Anna Hurt went through school, she often was teased and bullied because she had autism.

"They would call me a lot of really, really mean things. I really tried to brush it off," she said. "There'd be many a time I'd have a breakdown and wish I was just normal."

Over the years, she has gained many coping skills to help her with communication and the finer points of socializing.

But one thing in particular helped her overcome -- or at least manage -- her special needs: joining Madison County Special Olympics.

"When I joined, I pretty much learned I could make new friends, and I was not the only one who was special needs. It makes me more social," she said. "That is the nice thing about Special Olympics; you're like a family."

One of eight Special Olympians joined by eight mentors from Anderson University, Anna Hurt practiced bowling at Championship Lanes on Sunday in preparation for a tournament in April at Expo Bowling Center in Indianapolis.

"This is my life," she said. She also participates in corn toss and helps out with track and field.

She also helps with Special Olympians with more debilitating conditions when their parents or mentors aren't around.

"I can understand who I am now," she said. "It love it. It keeps me busy. It's a big stress relief."

Rhonda Hurt said she's seen her daughter blossom since she started participating in Special Olympics about four years ago.

"It's made a world of difference in her. She has come out of her shell. She's got friends now," she said. "She's having fun and realizing she does fit in, that she's not alone in this world."

Anna Hurt also is attending college through Special Olympics' Athlete Leadership Program at Butler University in Indianapolis. Through ALPs, participants work toward certification in areas, including public speaking, coaching, health and fitness, and governance.

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(c)2018 The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, Ind.)

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