Special Olympians are all heart during bowling competition in Bangor

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - As the owner of Family Fun Lanes in Bangor, Andy Meucci says greeting these athletes for the last three decades has been an absolute joy.

"And it just seems to get better and better as we go along."

About 230 Special Olympics are competing here this year in an event that's more like a celebration.

"It's to celebrate training that they've done and to come together for competition and to support one another," said Christina Ehrhard, Area co-manager with Special Olympics Maine.

Preperation is key for Special Olympians. They train year round.

"I'm so proud. I'm getting ready to win," said Jackie Contino.

The Olympians are fierce competitors.

"I think if you look around, you'll see some great sportsmanship with these athletes, and they train hard and they want to compete, but they're also friends," said Ehrhard.

One thing is absolutely clear. All of these athletes have something that makes them winners from the minute they walk through the door. They have heart.

"When special needs people are competing, they help themselves feel better, feel good about themselves and the competition," said Ray Quimby.

"The Olympics has been so important for me, and I'm really proud to sponsor them and cheer of them on," said Robbie Garland.

"It goes along with the atmosphere that's been created for Special Olympics. It's an area to celebrate abilities and make friends doing so. Not always do we get to celebrate abilities. And this is an area where these people can shine. They do really well at shining," said Ehrhard.

No matter what their score is at the end of the day, Andy says they always leave smiling.

"These are the happiest people in town right now. But then again, every time these people come in here, three times a week, they've got a smile on their face. The world needs to check out what goes on here during Special Olympics. It's nice," he said.