If you walk into the Strike ‘N Spare West bowling alley on any given Saturday morning, you will find it hustling and bustling with about 60 individuals who participate in the YMCA’s Saturday Strikers bowling program. This program is offered to individuals with physical or mental disabilities. It is more than just bowling; it is an opportunity the YMCA has created for over 30 years to provide those with special needs a chance to grow and develop new skills. Bowling is one of a few sports that can be adapted for any ability. Because of this, Saturday Strikers has grown significantly in the last few years. In fact, the program has seen considerable growth with younger kids.
Cael, 13 is one of the kids who has been a part of the bowling program for the past two years. He rarely misses a week. He normally bowls with the same group every week and they have become pretty good friends and great supporters of each other. When asked what his favorite part of the program is, Cael said “Winning.” Well, Cael has had some experience with that. He bowled his best game a few weeks ago with a 145 and, because of his dedication to the sport, he found himself participating in Special Olympics last year. Cael surprised himself and his family when he won a gold at the regionals and sectionals and silver medal at state. This was a proud moment for both Cael and his family. Cael’s dad, Dick McCormick, is the glue behind this bowling group as he has made it his duty to keep the bowlers on target. Dick does it with such ease, humor and encouragement that it is really inspiring to watch. He knows when to step in and help and knows when to pull back and let the group decide what needs to happen next. When Dick was asked why the program is so important to Cael, he simply says “These guys have such a great time, they are getting more confident with each week and their support of each other is inspiring.”
When speaking about Cael and his family, Jill Steiner, Human Resource Director for the Y and Saturday Strikers Bowling program director, says, “Cael and his mom and dad are truly members of the YMCA family and their involvement has enriched the experiences for not only Cael, but the other bowlers in that lane. They are true cheerleaders for everyone! They are cheerleaders for the Y and cheerleaders for the mission. They are very aware of Cael’s needs, but also the needs of those around him. They constantly show Cael how to be independent and supportive of others. We are so proud of Cael and his accomplishments.”