By LeeAnn Cain / StaffWriter
Shouts of triumph rang through the air as pins toppled at Forest Lanes Monday.
A fundraiser was held at Forest Lanes to support local Special Olympics bowler Jason Finkey of London. For $15, participants could enjoy bowling, a raffle, and a meal that included an open-faced turkey sandwich and banana pudding.
Groups from adult day training programs in Corbin, London, and Williamsburg all came to support Finkey. The bowling alley was alive with their delight at participating in the fundraiser and playing a couple of games of bowling. Members of the public and day training staff members also participated in the fundraiser. While many of the lanes had guard rails up, Finkey’s did not.
A third of the proceeds went to benefit the cost of sending Finkey to New Jersey in June to bowl in the United States Special Olympics, a trip which will cost him approximately $2,500. According to Finkey’s case manager Julie Garland, about $1,500 had been raised prior to the event and by the end an additional $303 came from the fundraiser and plastic pins set up at the bowling alley to collect donations. Garland said they will hold additional fundraisers, but they do not have anything in mind yet.
Janie Reynolds, an employee at Forest Lanes, was one of the event’s organizers. Reynolds said that while the fundraiser had no specific financial goal, her main concern was ensuring Finkey would be able to go to New Jersey to compete. She said she wanted to do the fundraiser to help Finkey as much as possible.
Finkey has autism, but he does not let that stop him from working, bowling, and being involved in the community. He has worked at Arby’s in London for the past nine years and is a Kentucky Colonel. He attends London Adult Day Training program, which Garland describes as a sort of “school” for special needs adults. Finkey also loves to travel, and has been to several different places across the United States.
Finkey said he loves bowling because it makes him happy. Garland said his top score was 221, and his main goal was to attend the worldwide Special Olympics. Finkey is the only person from the Tri-County to make it to the national level in Special Olympics, and is one of 39 athletes on Team Kentucky and one of only four bowlers from Kentucky to be going to New Jersey.
Garland said Finkey has been bowling competitively for 14 years, and adult day training programs encourage participation in the Special Olympics; that’s how Finkey himself started bowling. While very few people make it to the national level, there are far more that compete at local and regional levels.
“The Special Olympics is a way for people with disabilities to show their abilities,” Garland said.
According to Finkey’s coach and day training instructor LaVisia Childers, Finkey is “independent and talented.” She said he qualified for the United States Special Olympic competition in 2012, and the national Special Olympics are held every four years. The Special Olympics has 27 events, Childers said, and added that Finkey also participates in track-and-field events on a lower level of competition.
Finkey is excited about the trip, and he is determined to realize his goals of Olympic success.
“I’m going to New Jersey to do the best I can and I’m going to win me something,” Finkey said with confidence.
Donations to Finkey are tax-deductible, and people are encouraged to continue to make donations for his trip. Garland can be contacted for information at 682-6982.
By LeeAnn Cain / StaffWriter
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