Bowled over by op­por­tu­nity

John Kirk­man of Na­pa­nee will bowl in 2018 Spe­cial Olympics Canada Sum­mer Games

Kingston Whig-Standard - - NEWS - MEGHAN BALOGH

A Spe­cial Olympics ath­lete from Na­pa­nee is trav­el­ling to Prince Ed­ward Is­land to com­pete at the Spe­cial Olympics Canada 2018 Sum­mer Games.

John Kirk­man is an ath­lete with Spe­cial Olympics Len­nox and Ad­ding­ton. Af­ter suc­cess­fully com­pet­ing in 10-pin bowl­ing at the provin­cial level in Guelph in 2016, Kirk­man was se­lected as a mem­ber of the na­tional team for this year’s Games.

He’ll travel to Sum­mer­brook, P.E.I., for the 10-pin bowl­ing cham­pi­onships from May 14 to 20.

“I feel good,” Kirk­man said, smil­ing. He also said that he’s not ner­vous, even though this will be his first time fly­ing.

Kirk­man’s coach, Gail Burtch, said Kirk­man is only the sec­ond ath­lete from the area to ever at­tend a na­tional-level Spe­cial Olympics event.

“For as long as I’ve been in­volved in the Spe­cial Olympics, we haven’t had any­one go to na­tion­als un­til last year,” Burtch, a long­time coach with Spe­cial Olympics Len­nox and Ad­ding­ton, said.

“The in­ter­est­ing thing about Spe­cial Olympics in Len­nox and Ad­ding­ton is that we’re just a very small, mi­nor, lit­tle area. We’re re­ally ex­cited that John gets to do this.”

In or­der to pro­ceed to the Sum­mer Games, ath­letes must qual­ify lo­cally and provin­cially. Ath­letes who qual­ify at the na­tional level could go on to rep­re­sent Canada at the 2019 Spe­cial Olympics World Sum­mer Games.

“The World Games will be in Abu Dhabi [in the United Arab Emi­rates] in 2019, and John may get to go there,” Butch said en­thu­si­as­ti­cally.

Or­ga­niz­ers ex­pect more than 3,000 spec­ta­tors to show up to watch the 2018 Sum­mer Games, the bulk of which take place in Antigo­nish, N.S., later in the sum­mer. The 10-pin bowl­ing hap­pens separately.

More than 900 ath­letes, close to 300 coaches and of­fi­cials, and 600 vol­un­teers will make the Games a re­al­ity this sum­mer.

For Kirk­man to at­tend the 2018 Canada Sum­mer Games bowl­ing cham­pi­onships, he will have to raise $1,000 to cover part of his ex­penses.

“We’ve been lucky that we have been get­ting do­na­tions and funds from the com­mu­nity al­ready,” Burtch said.

A mu­sic con­cert fea­tur­ing Valdy, as well as some di­rect com­mu­nity do­na­tions, have started the fundrais­ing ball rolling.

Pro­ceeds from a spe­cial com­mu­nity spaghetti sup­per com­ing up in New­burgh on Feb. 23 will also go to help John get to P.E.I.

“It’s at the New­burgh Hall and it’s by free-will of­fer­ing, so peo­ple can get in for free and eat spaghetti, and if they think it’s great then they can do­nate at the end,” Burtch said. “A lot of John’s friends and coaches will be go­ing to the sup­per and we’ll be giv­ing a lit­tle bit of money.”

Kirk­man thanked those in the com­mu­nity who have al­ready do­nated or are plan­ning to do­nate to his big op­por­tu­nity.

Spe­cial Olympics Len­nox and Ad­ding­ton serves more than 90 lo­cal ath­letes with spe­cial needs from across Len­nox and Ad­ding­ton County. The or­ga­ni­za­tion of­fers coach­ing in swim­ming, bowl­ing, bas­ket­ball, floor hockey, curl­ing, bocce ball, soft­ball and golf.

“Our catch­ment area is large, pretty much all of Len­nox and Ad­ding­ton. We have in­di­vid­u­als from Amher­stview, Tam­worth, De­seronto,” Burtch ex­plained.

There is a fee for par­tic­i­pat­ing, but the lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion waives those fees for fam­i­lies who can­not af­ford it. Spe­cial Olympics Len­nox and Ad­ding­ton also cov­ers the cost of ac­cess­ing the pool, bowl­ing al­leys and gyms that they use to house the sports they of­fer.

Thanks to gen­eros­ity from lo­cal char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the Na­pa­nee District Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion and the 100-plus Women Who Care Len­nox and Ad­ding­ton, Spe­cial Olympics Len­nox and Ad­ding­ton is se­cure in its fund­ing for the next lit­tle while.

“It’s good that we have such a sup­port­ive com­mu­nity,” Burtch said. “They re­al­ize the ben­e­fit of get­ting peo­ple who have de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties in­volved in sports and in­volved in the com­mu­nity. It’s great.”

MEGHAN BALOGH/THE WHIG-STAN­DARD

John Kirk­man of Na­pa­nee will be com­pet­ing in bowl­ing at the Spe­cial Olympics 2018 Sum­mer Games.

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