KILLEEN — Amid the clattering of bowling pins and the roar of rock ‘n’ roll music, 20 young athletes, ages 5-20, waited eagerly for their turns to bowl Monday, the first night of the Superhero Bowling League hosted by the city of Harker Heights at Hallmark Lanes in Killeen.
Sitting on a plastic bench, Coty Lloyd, 20, was the unofficial greeter for the evening and the oldest participant in the league. A Killeen resident, Lloyd has Down syndrome. His mom, Amy Dunn, who accompanied him to the bowling alley, said she hopes he can continue participating in programs like the bowling league.
“I’ve asked them to extend or offer programs for older people with special needs,” Dunn said. “Last year, Coty did soccer, kick ball, basketball, and rock climbing with the program. Killeen doesn’t offer anything like this so we go to Harker Heights.”
Bowling, like the other sports programs, gives Lloyd the benefits of socialization and camaraderie.
“He’s a social butterfly,” Dunn said.
The Superhero Adaptive Sports program was established in 2010 and provides recreational opportunities for children and young adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. An extension of the Harker Heights Paralympic Sports program, Superhero is an all-inclusive program open to participants with disabilities such as autism, Asperger’s syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, blindness, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy.
Athletic Coordinator Jeff Achee has led the program for two months and is impressed with the participants and their parents.
“We have people coming from Belton, Copperas Cove, all over really,” Achee said. “We sent a survey to the families asking which programs they were most interested in and bowling was No. 1 by far.”
Harker Heights resident Kaelyn Sateren, 10, has cerebral palsy and is legally blind. A first time bowler, she didn’t let nerves stop her Monday night.
“I like the colored balls and doing a new sport,” Sateren said. “My mom does bowling and I thought I could try it.”
Quinten Goins, Kaelyn’s step-dad, said bowling would be good for her confidence. Her father, Todd Sateren, drove from Copperas Cove to watch his daughter bowl.
“Kaelyn’s mom tried to get her signed up for soccer because it’s her favorite sport, but there weren’t enough participants so we waited for bowling to start,” Sateren said. “I wish more people would bring their kids out to this program.”
Achee said his goal is to reach as many kids as possible and to give them an outlet to have a good time and meet other kids.
Smiling broadly, Lloyd expressed his appreciation of the programs.
“I love rock climbing.”
The bowling league meets Mondays through Jan. 20 at Hallmark Lanes in Killeen. Cost of the league is $40 per bowler. For more information, call 254-953-5657, email Achee at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.ci.harker-heights.tx.us/index.php/athletics/superhero-sports.