About 40 athletes competed in the Carbon County Special Olympics bowling tournament which was held at Fritz's Lanes in Lehighton.

The turnout for the event was good not only in the number of participating athletes but also in the large number of family, supporters and spectators who came to the bowling alley to cheer them on.

The action was non-stop during the bowling tournament, as one Special Olympian after another took their turn at trying to knock down as many pins as possible.

All of the alleys were being utilized with two, three, four or more bowlers up at one time.

All of the athletes were very enthusiastic about the tournament, with cheers, laughter and high-fives abounding between them.

The Gold Medalists from this bowling tournament are qualified to advance to the Eastern Spring Sectionals which will be held Allentown.

From there, those who qualify will then move on to the Penn State Summer Games in State College.

Special Olympics is a year-round program with different sports offered each season.

The program is free to all participant, both children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Pennsylvania has one of the largest delegations in the country, which means that the state has the largest population of athletes competing in the Special Olympics.

As noted on the Special Olympics website, the benefits to the athletes go beyond the sports themselves.

They also have the opportunities to make new friends, enjoy new experiences, develop confidence and know the pride of accomplishment.

The reality of all of those benefits was quite apparent in all the smiling, laughing faces of the athletes as they participated in the Carbon County Special Olympics bowling tournament.