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Special Olympians begin competing Monday in Indoor Games

By STEVE LEE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 29, 2002

HUDSON -- Monday begins a four-day run of special events in Pasco County.

The Special Olympics Indoor Games include bowling, team basketball and basketball skills, gymnastics and power lifting.

All 585 participants, ranging in age from 8 to 65, are eligible for the area competition, where they would face competitors from Pinellas, Hernando, Citrus and Sumter counties.

While sites and times for gymnastics and power lifting have yet to be determined for the area competition, Indoor Games organizer Judy Brunner said bowling is scheduled for Oct. 21 at Seminole Lanes in Pinellas County and basketball events for Nov. 16 at Zephyrhills High.

The state competition will be Dec. 6-8 in Daytona Beach.

"It's been a nightmare the last couple of weeks trying to get everything together, but it's been a nice problem to have," Brunner said.

Most of Pasco County's Special Olympians will be active Monday. Bowling attracts the most competitors. Brunner said more than 300 participants will bowl beginning at 9 a.m. at Leisure Lanes in Hudson.

"Bowling fits into more schedules because it's a recreational activity," Brunner said. "They can do that outside of being with a coach all the time and they can do it with their parents."

County co-coordinators Brunner and Valerie Lundin have organized winter and summer Special Olympics annually since 1981. Both teach adaptive physical education, Brunner at Woodland Elementary and Lundin at Cotee River Elementary.

"Once we got involved, we were both hooked," Brunner said.

In August, Lundin joined Brunner in the state's Special Olympics Hall of Fame. Brunner, elected in 1999, introduced Lundin during her induction.

"We've worked together for a long time and there's a lot of mutual respect," Lundin said.

Added Brunner, "It's a very high honor."

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