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Faribault County Giants starting winter sports season

By Staff | Oct 21, 2018

The Faribault County Giants bowling team is pictured in the top photo. Front row, left to right are Heaven Ihle, Nora Leyva, Fletcher Lundquist, Keith Larson and Kristi Aukes. In the middle row are KristIn Frye, Rosemary Szymanski and Madison Warmka. In the back row are Taylor Aukes, Colby Tolzman, Brandon Hanson and AJ Wolffe.

What started off as an idea, then became a dream, now has become reality for one woman and a group of Faribault County athletes.

Sheryl Aukes has been working on getting a Special Olympics group started in Faribault County, and now it has happened.

A group of Special Olympics athletes, calling themselves the Faribault County Giants, has been organized and begun practices.

“We have 12 bowlers on our Faribault County Giants bowling team,” Aukes says. “And, we began bowling practice on Sept. 30 at Lucky Lanes in Winnebago.”

The team is working hard to better their bowling skills, as their season will end on Dec. 2, with the State Special Olympics Bowling Tournament, which is being held this year at the WOW! Zone in Mankato.

“They are all so excited,” Aukes says. “They have so much fun, and they really cheer each other on even after a gutter ball.”

There is another group having just as much fun as the team members, Aukes explains.

“We have coaches, volunteers and unified partners,” Aukes says. “The coaches cannot help the athletes, but unified partners can help them, like to get the bowling ball up on the ramp. And the volunteers help make it all happen.”

Aukes adds that some high school kids are the volunteers and unified partners and are having a lot of fun helping out.

The bowlers all wear green shirts with the new Faribault County Giants Special Olympics of Minnesota logo on each one. The coaches, volunteers and unified partners all wear gray shirts with the same Giant logo on them.

“We are looking at getting more shirts and some jackets, and some other items,” Aukes says. “Some will be sold to the public as a fundraiser for the team.”

She says that they had a series of meetings to get the Giants organized and up and going.

“At the last meeting we had, I thought we might get six people to sign up,” she says. “But by the first practice, we had 12, which is great.”

After the bowling season ends with the State Tournament in December, the athletes get some time off. Then, in February and March, basketball and track & field both start.

“We will practice at the schools, they have given us permission to use their facilities,” Aukes says. “And when the weather gets nice we can go outdoors on the school track.”

Aukes says that besides the 12 bowlers, there are another four or five people who are expressing interest in the spring sports season. There could be even more than that by the time February rolls around, she hopes.

“Our Special Olympics athletes from Faribault County were competing on the Martin County team,” Aukes explains. “But not everyone could get to Fairmont to participate. That is why we decided to develop our own team.”

And so far, that idea has worked out very, very well.

“It is just so exciting to see and be a part of,” Aukes says. “It was a lot of work to get it started, but it sure is worth all the effort when you see them all smiling.”

Anyone who wishes more information, or wants to donate, or join the team, can call Aukes at 507-525-4489 or email her at sdaukes08@hotmail.com. There is also a Faribault County Giants Facebook page.