By Gail Paquette
Johnny Ellis has his eyes on bringing home more gold.
A member of the Special Olympics bowling team for 20 years, Ellis came back from the provincials in Kingston, May 31-June 3, with two gold medals and three bronze.
“I wanted to go to the Olympics since I was 13,” says Ellis. “Cathy has been my coach since I started. She is the best. She calms me down during competition.”
Cathy Collins has been the Recreation and Program Facilitator at Pathways in Belleville for 32 years and volunteers her time as coach and mentor for the Special Olympics. She was with Ellis in 2010 at Nationals in London, Ontario when he won gold.
Now he has his sights set on the 2014 National Special Olympics in Vancouver in July.
“He would be the spirit of the Special Olympics,” said Collins. “Always ready, willing and able.”
The games had 900 athletes competing and as many volunteers.
The spring game provincials included Ellis’s game of 5 pin bowling as well as 10 pin, basketball, bocce ball and powerlifting.
“It’s an amazing spectacle to behold,” said Collins. “ It’s wonderful to meet so many new people and see so many different perspectives.”
At 34 years of age, Ellis has been an athlete all his adult life. As well as bowling he participates in karate and plays hockey and golf. He is going for a place on the Special Olympics golf team.
“The special Olympics started in 1969,” said Collins. “ There was a need to develop a sports program for intellectually disabled people as it was proven they were less active then their non-disabled peers.”
Special Olympics Canada boasts the involvement of 34,000 athletes, who participate in at least two events every year.