ALBANY -- The city of Albany's Recreation and Parks department announced last week a partnership with Special Olympics Georgia to host a bowling invitational in Albany this summer.
The event will feature nearly 200 Special Olympians from around the state, Charles White, the area representative for the Special Olympics, said.
"This is going to be a great partnership for us," he said. "We're excited to have this event and provide a venue for these athletes to play."
Albany Recreation and Parks Director Suzanne Davis said the event will focus the eyes of the Special Olympics community on the city and hopefully have a positive economic impact.
"This is great for us because it means people from all over the state will come to Albany and have fun, but will also spend money and maybe a few will stay a night or two in a hotel while they're here," she said.
The event has been set for July 30 and will have two sessions. The first session will begin at 8:30 a.m. and wrap up at noon, with the second session beginning at 12:30 p.m. and ending at 4:30 p.m.
There will be a $15 fee, and all participants must be a Special Olympics Georgia-registered athlete age 22 or older.
In Albany, the Special Olympics bowling program is gaining traction. Last year, a team from Albany earned a silver medal at an event in Macon, Recreation and Parks spokesperson Kristin Caso said.
Caso, Fran Salter and Marie Stamps are the three coordinators of the event.
Currently, the Albany program has about 20 members enrolled, including Worth County's Greg McLean, who recently bowled a 207 at the Rose Bowl in Thomasville to pick up an award at a tournament there.
"It's something I really enjoy doing," he said. "I bowl even outside of practice."
Stamps, who works closely with the group of bowlers, said the passion and drive many of them exhibit is what is so rewarding to her.
"We have a cycle of sporting activities and after one season of one sport is over, there really isn't but like a week off before the next one starts," she said. "And most of these people are there, practicing and working and just enjoying themselves. That's what it's all about."
Davis said Parks and Recreation is accepting requests statewide and has received inquiries from as far away as White County on the Tennessee border. What the group needs now, she says, is input and participation from volunteers and sponsors in order to defray costs associated with hosting the event, which will include lunch, providing T-shirts and awards for the top teams.
"It's important for us to offer recreational needs to all segments of the community," Davis said. "But we'd like to get as much participation and involvement from the community as we can. Volunteers and sponsors are needed at this point."
The AMF Bowl-A-Rama on Broad Avenue and Advertising with Lisa have signed on as sponsors, joining the Recreation and Parks Department and Special Olympics Georgia.
To volunteer, a form is available on the ARPD Web site at www.albany.ga.us.