Special Olympian a top-notch bowler with bigger plans - KMSP-TV

Special Olympian a top-notch bowler with bigger plans

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TONKA BAY, Minn. (KMSP) -

Allie Henley is much more than an athlete. She works hard to create a fair, just and equal environment for students with disabilities, and she’s made it to the Special Olympics USA Games -- just one of several big dreams she plans to make come true.

“I feel like I worked really hard for this,” Henley said.

Strike after strike, Henley seamlessly proves just why she was selected to represent Minnesota at the USA Games.

At Country Club Lanes in Tonka Bay, Minn., she practices hard each week, but it’s almost time to compete.

She plays several other sports, but earned a gold medal bowling, helping qualify her for nationals. She's dedicated the last 10 years of her life not only to athletics, but to her work as a global messenger and ambassador for the Special Olympics.

Her mother Betsy couldn’t be more proud.

“It's going to send shivers up our spine to see that happening and see them compete,” she said.

Henley’s painful experiences are a big reason why she serves to make schools a better place for students with disabilities

“Before I joined Special Olympics, I just did regular gymnastics and the coaches were not really nice to me. They didn't really know how to work with special needs. I needed to be taught in a different way and they never did that for me. They got frustrated with me and they always kept me on the same level, I never got to move up a level like the other girls did,” she said.

Betsy says the difference Special Olympics has made is priceless.

“It's given her confidence and some guts to speak up for herself,” she said.

And her daughter does that diligently.

“I know American Idol is over with now, but not too long ago, Kaleb from American Idol used the word ‘retarded’ right on Twitter and that was very hurtful. I hope someday he realizes that was wrong,” she said.

Her work is far from over, but she'll make Minnesota proud -- she is among only a hand-picked few representing the state at the USA Games.

Her other big dream is to someday work at a local school as a kindergarten teacher.

She and the other 3,500 athletes from across the country will compete from June 14 through June 21.

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