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The winners of winter
Special Olympics competitors bowl for fun and respect
Angel McDaniel of Dawson County reacts to a good shot Friday as she competes in the Special Olympics bowling event at Yonah Bowl and Skate in Cleveland. - photo by Tom Reed

CLEVELAND — Hall County Area Special Olympiads ended their annual area winter games Friday with a medal ceremony for high school and masters athletes.

The ceremony wrapped up a two-day bowling competition for Special Olympics athletes at Yonah Bowl and Skate.

The events in Cleveland on Thursday and Friday involved nearly 200 athletes who traveled to the competition from across Hall, White, Habersham, Dawson and Lumpkin counties, according to Philip Rudolph, senior regional manager for Areas 2, 3, 4 and 18 of Special Olympics Georgia.

The area event will help disabled athletes prepare for the state-level Special Olympics, Rudolph said. During this week’s area games, certified coaches were on hand to instruct athletes on the rules and skills Special Olympics bowling requires, Rudolph said.

“The athletes should be training all year, so by the time they get to the state games, the coaches shouldn’t have to tell them what to do,” Rudolph said.

The event is also an opportunity for disabled people who may not always have the chance to be a part of society to socialize and feel like a part of a team, Rudolph said.

Approximately 120 athletes who were high school-aged and older, along with approximately 75 elementary and middle school-aged athletes, competed in the Area 2 winter games this week, Rudolph said.

“The benefit of Special Olympics is that it gives a lot of athletes that don’t have a lot of chances to compete to develop social skills and confidence,” Rudolph said.

“This is bringing them into (situations) where they are recognized as regular people.”

The event also allows local businesses to give back to the community, said Wayne Neck, who is the chairman for Area 2 Special Olympics Georgia.

Neck’s business, Global Rehabilitation Services, helped sponsor the two-day Olympics along with Yonah Skate and Bowl, Neck said. Yonah Skate and Bowl has sponsored the winter event for seven years.