Today, we were privileged to attend a special event. One of Stephanie’s friends in the Stars program had a birthday party today. The party, which was originally scheduled the week of the “Texas Deep Freeze,” was postponed until today, and was held at a local bowling alley. Stephanie had been very excited about this party for weeks.
We arrived right on time and found the area where the party was happening. We got Stephanie’s shoes and Christi helped her get them on and find a bowling ball she could use. We got her down to the lanes for the party, and then Christi and I got some shoes and another lane where we could bowl a few games on our own. We were only about 4-6 lanes down from the party, so we were able to watch them while we were bowling.
Now imagine this: There were approximately 8 autistic teenagers bowling on a couple of lanes, along with a couple of parents. Plus the one with the birthday had his mother and possibly a grandmother there. I need to backtrack first and add that, when we arrived, several of the other students from the Stars program were already there, and were extremely friendly with their greetings, complete with hugs and handshakes. They were very polite. As the bowling began, Christi and I watched with delight as Stephanie bowled a strike on her first ball! The cheer that went up for her was audible from 8 lanes down! High fives were given all around. The smile on her face was priceless.
This was the atmosphere throughout the entire party. We never saw anyone upset. We never saw anyone arguing or even frowning. They cheered for each other. They hugged each other. They high-fived each other. They also had some of the most unique bowling styles I’ve ever seen. In short, it was a very wonderful time for everyone that was there.
Christi and I bowled three games while we watched them. We had paid for an hour, and when we finished our second game (which Christi won), we had 11 minutes left. We decided to go ahead and bowl out our time. I said, “Hey, do you think we can bowl a whole game in 10 minutes?” So we tried! We did “speed bowling.” We came very close, too. We got 8 frames in in 10 minutes. I went up to the counter and told them we only had 2 frames in our last game…the spotted us 10 extra minutes and didn’t charge us. The funny thing is that was our best game! I bowled a 166 and Christi bowled a 151! We are both pretty sore right now.
After we were finished we went down and watched the rest of the party. Everyone was all smiles and happy. It was a great time! I feel very blessed to have gotten to observe it. To see the camaraderie in that bunch of kids (and one or two that weren’t even part of the Stars group) was truly a special blessing.
Stephanie now wants to have a bowling party for her next birthday. And a bowling party for the Stars class in the summer. We just might do that.