PITTSBURG, Kans. — People have been able to get out and enjoy their summers for the first time in a while and now, some local athletes are getting their time to shine.

“It gives these athletes a place to be and a place to be celebrated,” said Erin Fletcher, Special Olympics Kansas Brands & Development Director.

Athletes from across Southeast Kansas are making their way to Pittsburg this week for the Special Olympics Kansas Adult Regional Bowling Competition at Holiday Lanes.

“We’ve got a variety of adults from around the area that are coming and competing with bowling, and it’s the first time we’ve been able to do this since the pandemic,” said Fletcher.

“We haven’t been going here for a long time. I’ve been having fun, and I’ve been able to do something that we’ve wanted to do in this whole wide world,” said Tyson Wiemers, Athlete.

Over 100 athletes like Wiemers were joined by the coaches and volunteers from across the community.

“We have at least five different groups of volunteers that are here today, and we have everything from area businesses, to our volunteer groups from Kiwanis, to Pittsburg Area Young Professionals, to the Chamber of Commerce,” said Fletcher.

One of those volunteer groups includes local law enforcement like the Pittsburg Police Department who are no strangers to working with Special Olympics Kansas.

“They’re here to help hand out medals and celebrate our athletes. They work with the Law Enforcement Torch Run which is the biggest fundraising group for not just Kansas, but for all of Special Olympics,” said Fletcher.

“We enjoy doing what we do. We enjoy raising money for Special Olympics athletes and we enjoy coming to their events, so that’s the biggest part of it. We can raise the money, we can do all the events, but when we get to come here and hand out medals. That’s the best part of it,” said Lt. Chris Moore, Pittsburg Police Department.