Special Award | CraigDailyPress.com

Special Award

Daltons named Western Colorado Special Olympic Family of the Year

Amy Hamilton

The only way the Daltons know how to celebrate the honor of receiving the honor of Special Olympic family of the year is by spreading the fame around.

Bonnie and Jay Dalton and their four children were chosen recently as the Western Slope recipients for the award. If the Daltons receive the state honor, the distinction will follow them to the Special Olympic Hall of Fame in Denver.

“When we heard about it we all said ‘Yes!’ and cheered with big smiles on our faces,” said athlete J’Lea Dalton. “Then we talked about what it meant to us.”

Special Olympic coach Bonnie Dalton has been involved with the program since 1998 when she helped organize a church dinner raising support for it. Soon afterward, she found that her eight-year-old son qualified to participate in the Olympics.

Over the years, the Dalton athletes have excelled in the Special Olympic sports programs.

Josh Dalton traveled to Alaska in 2001 to compete in cross country skiing events. Other local competitions have featured stellar performances in track and field from brothers Josh and J.D.

Soon a bowling team coached in part by Bonnie Dalton will head to the Fall Classic Nov. 7-8 in Denver. The state competition is the largest event held by Special Olympics Colorado and will include nearly 1,000 athletes and their partners to in a variety of events from bowling to roller-skating and volleyball.

As part of the area family of the year and as a coach of the Craig Special Olympic bowling team, Bonnie Dalton can’t help but promote the team’s successes as a whole when asked about the recent honor bestowed upon her family.

“Jay and I ask ourselves if we deserve it,” she said. “The reason we do it is for the kids and all the enthusiasm they get out of it.”

Currently a 12-member bowling team makes huge strides as they head toward the state competition.

A Western area bowling competition held Oct. 4 in Rifle garnered much success. Participants Jaremie Ogden and Josh Cooper, who were accustomed to bowling with the assistance of a ramp, tried the sport this year without the aid.

Josh Chase competed in the singles competition and earned a second place in the 13- to 19-year-old category with an average of 89.

Ramp bowlers Kyle and Janalee are enjoying their first year of ramp bowling. Kyle received a first-place ribbon with an average of 109. Janalee placed third with an average of 93.

Another ramp bowler, Jamie Odgen, received second place in her division.

A new doubles team this year of J’Lea Dalton and Dez Nugent earned a second-place ribbon with an average score of 126.

“We’re like a big family,” said Bonnie of her immediate family and her bowling athletes. “We get together and have fun and squabble.”

Eight Special Olympic sports are offered in Craig but winter holds the least participated events, organizers said.

Besides bowling, athletes participate in cross country skiing and snowshoeing as soon as the weather permits.

There are now more than 1.2 million athletes who participate in Special Olympic programs worldwide. That’s 22 percent more athletes than in 2000, according to figures from the organization. Almost three quarters of all athletes compete in the top five sports of bowling, basketball, football, aquatics and athletics.

Special Olympics Colorado provides year-round sports training and competitions for children and adults with developmental disabilities to those eight years and older “giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in sharing gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community,” states the organization’s Web site.

According to bowler Desiree Nugent, being on the Special Olympic bowling team is good time to socialize and work on the skills it takes to be an athlete.

“It’s the ultimate time with your friends,” she said. “We’re doing better than last year. We’re doing very good.”

And it seems the Daltons are doing a good job — good enough to earn the prestigious honor that recognized their family over a host of others.

If chosen as the state family of the year, the Daltons will be recognized at a black-tie “foo-foo” event in February, said Bonnie. A family picture and plaque will rest with the state Special Olympic office declaring the Daltons as the 2003 family of the year.

“It’s been wonderful,” Dalton said, smiling. “I never thought we’d be here.”

Amy Hattan can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 208 or by e-mail at ahattan@craigdailypress.com.

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