Saturday Strikers Bowling program is a league for individuals who are mentally or physically disadvantaged. The program is offered about forty
weeks out of the year, has about 160 individuals who are enrolled and does not require a YMCA membership. The program pays for two games of
bowling, shoe rental, and transportation for those who need it. Saturday Strikers Bowling program is completely subsidized by the YMCA Strong Kids
Fund at a cost of almost $30,000 a year. Ethan has been part of the Saturday Strikers Bowling program for the past three years. He is a bright, sweet, and funny twelve-year-old who attends Grant Middle School. He is a car enthusiast, incredibly creative, loves to play video games and science is his favorite subject. He was diagnosed with autism at two and a half and has been enrolled in YMCA programs since he was nine months old.
Although Ethan has only been in the bowling program for a short period of time, he bowls like a pro. Jennie Alt, Ethan’s mom said he has been bowling since he could walk. He has been obsessed with bowling pins since one years old. His dedication to the program was seen by making a substantial donation to the program after just being part of the bowling program for a few weeks. When you ask Ethan what his favorite part of the program is, he simply states, “When all the pins get knocked over.” Jennie Alt, says, “The program is phenomenal. It provides a great source of exercise, gives Ethan the opportunity to be social and we discovered he is a good bowler.” His father, John Alt, says, “This program provides things that are so important in a team atmosphere. Ethan has learned how to take turns, be patient and how to cheer for his friends.”
Kathryn Andruch, Saturday Striker Bowling coordinator said, “I am so impressed with the support he gets from his family. They are there to give Ethan encouragement as well as the other bowlers. Ethan is just a fun and kind kid. From the first day of bowling, he has been welcoming of the other bowlers and is there to always cheer them on. We have seen some big growth in the short time Ethan has been part of the program. He has become incredibly independent and very social. We look forward to seeing Ethan each week we bowl.”
This program acknowledges not just the victories, but the progress each of the bowlers make. For one it may be to patiently wait their turn, for another it may be that they were able to manipulate the bowling ramps or make eye contact and congratulate their teammate. It is truly so much more than a bowling program. Once the athletes arrive at the bowling alley, the boundaries and limitations they live with daily disappear and they simply concentrate on having fun!