by Emily Luxen
SMYRNA, TN – Hundreds of blind or visually impaired bowlers from across the country have rolled into Middle Tennessee to compete for a national championship.
The American Blind Bowlers Association's 67th annual championship tournament is being held in Smyrna for the first time in the event’s history.
Thursday night, bowlers from teams from across the country filled the Smyrna Bowling Center for the event’s opening ceremonies.
“This event is really like a family,” said Sharon Benton, the National Tournament Committee Chairperson. “We get together and compete and it is a lot of fun.”
Seventeen members of the "One Desire Blind Bowlers" team traveled to Smyrna from Orlando, Florida for the competition. Decked out in matching black and white shirts, they cheered on each team member who was participating.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” said Ken Pleuss. “I love it.”
Pleuss lost his eyesight at age 68 due to diabetes. However, he hasn’t slowed down and his bowling game is still as strong as ever.
“This is one of the greatest things a person can do to show people what you can do with a handicap,” said Pleuss.
Pleuss and other competitors rely on spotters and rails positioned between bowling lanes to help them bowl. The rail is a series of aluminum pipes which snap together and are weighted down at each end.
“The rail is there as a guide,” said Benton. “This helps them throw the ball from the right position.”
Benton said the blind bowling community continues to grow, and she believes the opportunity to compete in tournaments across the country attracts new participants.
“It just keep growing,” said Benton. “Once you take a trip to that first tournament you are hooked.”
The Masters event kicks off Friday at 2 p.m., and singles, doubles and team competitions continue through Sunday at Smyrna Bowling Center. All events are open to the public.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org