By Lethbridge Herald on November 30, 2023.
By Justin Seward
The Lethbridge VIP (Visually Impaired Persons) Bowlers have been around for 24 years and was started by Bill and Lynda Brown.
The program started with six bowlers and has now reached its peak at 18 bowlers and is looking for more volunteers.
“We can’t run it without volunteers,” said Bill, who is blind and bowls in the league.
“They’re No.1. They’re very, very important and if we don’t have them, we honestly could not run the program. And I think today (on Tuesday), we probably got about 12 or 13 here and we try to have one volunteer for each really visually impaired person.”
Bill ideally would like three to six more volunteers.
“If somebody’s sick or somebody can’t come for whatever reason, we’ve got enough people to carry on,” said Bill.
Volunteers will be responsible in assisting the blind person in lining up, handing them the ball and telling them which pin they’ve knocked down.
“I think if they’re a little bit interested in bowling, it helps,” said Bill.
“But it’s a great activity for people who may be are retired. Like a lot of our volunteers are 60 and over and they want something to do and so they come to our volunteer program and go from there.”
Mark MacKenzie has been a volunteer since 2017.
“My experience with these people are all positive,” said MacKenzie.
“You come in and you see (the) mood that they’re in, it’s got to help yourself feel good.”
MacKenzie said it’s a social gathering.
“Rather than being cooped up at home, they get out and have a damn good time,” he said.
Beth Campbell has been with the group a few years into its inception.
“When people get strikes and spares,” chuckled Campbell, on her favourite thing.
“No they have a lot of fun. It’s nice to see them getting together and just having a good time. It doesn’t matter what their score is, but they still just have a good time. They’re pleased when they can do well and not that disappointed when they don’t.”
The difference between normal bowling and blind bowling is that while the rules are the same, that a rail is put up to keep the blind bowlers in a straight line.
“It’s harmony,” said Bill.
“Like everybody here is here for the same reason and it’s a happy place to be. It’s a very positive place to be is our bowling league.”
Interested volunteers and visually impaired bowlers can phone the Browns at (403) 942-1677.
The blind bowling is from 2-4 p.m. on Tuesdays at Holiday Bowl.