At the bowling lane special needs meets special detail

By  | 

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - In this town, the bowling alley is big enough for the both of us.

"We provide an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to have fun in a good clean wholesome environment," Don Sirmons said.

Don is the coach for a league of special needs bowlers, the PinSpinners. This team, formed in part with Chautauqua Charter School, meets every Tuesday at Bowl-a-Rama lanes in Panama City.

On this day, they've got company.

"Seeing the faces of our bowlers and our participants the deputies that will be bowling," Sirmons said about his favorite part of the day. "Everybody having fun and sharing, kind of having a team approach."

The league likes to pair with community partners and businesses. This is the first time they've paired with the sheriff's office. Sheriff Frank McKeithen, Major Tommy Ford and about 30 of their deputies and staff members came out to strike.

"It allows us our bowlers a chance to interact with the community," Sirmons said. "It breaks down barriers or maybe stereotypes, misunderstandings, that type of thing."

They're breaking down walls with the people who have the time, and the hugs, to spare.

"They see people that they respect which are deputies and law enforcement in a different light so to speak which is being able to share a good time with them," he said.

The league bowls during the school year. Tuesday was their last practice. That doesn't include a special practice next week, for the seven team members preparing to go to the state competition.

But today, the score is the least of their cares.

"You know lots of high fives, that type of thing," Sirmons said. "Makes it very worthwhile."

The PinSpinners would be more than happy to pair with any interested community groups and businesses. But fair warning - they'll probably win.