Central Missourians compete at Fulton in Special Olympics tournament

Thomas Swenson, a graduate of Fulton High School, prepares his shot Saturday during Special Olympics competition at the Fulton Bowling Center.

Thomas Swenson, a graduate of Fulton High School, prepares his shot Saturday during Special Olympics competition at the Fulton Bowling Center. Photo by Don Norfleet.

A total of 338 Central Missourians competed Saturday in a Special Olympics bowling tournament at the Fulton Bowling Center.

Diane Brimer, Central Area Special Olympics director, said Special Olympics teams came from Fulton, Jefferson City, Columbia and Eldon.

In December they will attend district competition at either St. Charles or St. Joseph. The state tournament is scheduled for May 31 next year.

Joey Garrard, 38, of Fulton said he has been competing in Special Olympics since he was 8 years old.

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ric Crosby, a junior at Fulton High School, lines up a shot Saturday during Special Olympics competition at the Fulton Bowling Center. Three two-member unified Fulton teams participated Saturday during the Special Olympics bowling com-petition at the Fulton Bowling Center. From left, are: Kala Weaver and her Unified Partner Kate Larson; Eric Crosby and his Unified Partner Aiden Petterson; and Unified Partner Emme Curran with Cristina Briceno.

“I really enjoy doing this. It’s fun,” Garrard said. He is a Global Messenger for the Special Olympics program.

About 50 unified partners teamed up with Special Olympics competitors at Saturday’s event in Fulton.

Unified Sports joins people with and without developmental disabilities on the same team. Ken Petterson of Fulton said the pairing was inspired by an idea that playing together and training together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

In Unified Sports, teams are created by people of similar age or ability. This makes practices more fun and games more challenging.

One of the Fulton teams included Thomas Swenson, 21, a Fulton High School graduate, with his Unified Partner, Brian Larson.

Petterson of Fulton said his son Aiden competed in Saturday’s event as a Unified Partner with Eric Crosby of Fulton.

Other teams organized Saturday included Kayla Weaver with her Unified Partner, Kate Larson; and Cristina Briceno with her Unified Partner, Emme Curran.

Larson, Petterson and Curran are fifth graders at Bartley Elementary School in Fulton.

Weaver is a third grader at McIntire Elementary School in Fulton. Crosby is a junior at Fulton High School. Briceno is 36 and has been bowling for five years.

When tournaments are organized, scores from practices are used to match teams with similar scores against each other. This gives all teams a chance to win the competition.

Teams in Saturday’s competition have been practicing together since August.

Tournament competition continues today with six bowling sessions spread over two days.

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