Hurteau to represent NY at Special Olympics USA
SARANAC LAKE — It’s safe to say that Allen Hurteau, of Tupper Lake, is a pretty good bowler.
“My highest score this year is 210,” Hurteau said. “That’s only the highest this year.”
He even proved how good he was during an interview this past Thursday at Romano’s Saranac Lanes, when he picked up a turkey — three strikes in a row.
“I’ve been doing this since I was 2 years old,” Hurteau said. “I’ve been doing it a long time.”
On Monday, Hurteau will get to show the whole world how good he is when he competes in doubles and team competitions for unified bowling at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Florida. The entire event will be held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex from June 4-12.
Hurteau will be a part of a unified team — a team dedicated to unifying athletes with and without disabilities — of eight bowlers representing New York state in the Special Olympics. He will be joined by his unified bowling partner Michel LaMora and two other male athletes as a unified team.
LaMora, of Saranac Lake, has been a unified player for several years and attended the National Unified Bowling Competition. Donna Walsh will be the head coach for the unified team in Florida. Walsh, of Saranac Lake, coaches Special Olympic athletes year-round in a variety of sports.
She said this will be a huge deal for Hurteau because he hasn’t traveled a lot and he hasn’t traveled that far out of the state in 10 years.
“This will be the first time he has been to Florida,” Walsh said. “We’re going to be on Disney property at ESPN stadium there, so this is a huge adventure for him.”
The games are expected to showcase more than 5,500 athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the Caribbean. The event could also have around 125,000 spectators and will be broadcast on ESPN.
“When we get to Florida, he is going to be blown away because it is huge,” Walsh said. “Every night there are events planned. Sara Bareilles is going to be performing at the opening ceremonies and I’m sure at the closing ceremonies there is going to be some big-name there.”
Hurteau said he is excited to go to the Special Olympics and added that he just wants to have a good time.
“I’m gonna try my best. That’s all I can do,” Hurteau said. “All I have to do is to pick up some spares. It’s what I need to do, it’s important.”
Almost every Thursday, Hurteau commutes from Tupper Lake to attend practices at Romano’s Saranac Lanes with his local team, the Adirondack Rednecks. The team, which has more than 15 bowlers, is a part of one of the local Special Olympics New York Training Clubs.
“They’ve all had bowling growing up at some point,” Walsh said. “It’s an individual sport, but it’s also a team sport. When Allen goes he’s going to be part of the team.”
Hurteau and the Adirondack Rednecks don’t just bowl. The team does bocce, softball and snowshoeing among a few sports.
“There is a lot of camaraderie in Special Olympics especially when we were training at Dewey outside,” Walsh said. “During that second year of COVID, it was a life saver for us to be together because nothing else was happening. We would get together at Dewey and be outdoors in the fresh air and it was a positive experience for everybody.”
While Hurteau will be the only athlete from the Adirondack Rednecks going to Florida for the Special Olympics, the rest the team will have their chance soon.
“Every one of these athletes would like to be going to Florida to this experience,” Walsh said. “Eight of them are going to go to the New York State Special Olympics at the end of June.”