The American Wheelchair Bowling Association

The American Wheelchair Bowling Association (AWBA) was founded in 1961 by Richard Carlson and 13 other men in wheelchairs who wanted to bowl and would not take "no" for an answer. Over the last 59 years, the AWBA has grown to over 500 members around the country, competing in seven regional tournaments and one National Championship.

American Wheelchair Bowling Association

The sport of bowling has preceded many other sports that are currently played at a professional level. From young children to senior citizens, the sport of wheelchair bowling has no age limitation. In fact, the sport of wheelchair bowling itself is governed by the AWBA, which has established rules for play that feature very little difference than the rules that govern able-bodied bowling. Wheelchair bowling is one of the few adaptive sports where our members can even compete with able-bodied bowlers at any level, allowing a wheelchair bowler to integrate quickly by joining local leagues in his or her own area. We often hear that wheelchair bowlers feel welcomed and a part of the sport itself very quickly while experiencing very few barriers.

As the AWBA has evolved, it has welcomed men, women, and youth bowlers around the country to bring the sport to a very visible level in the bowling world. The AWBA is 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation incorporated in the state of Florida. We are a totally volunteer-dependent organization that relies on donations and national sponsors to offset the organization's annual expenses.

Our members either pay small annual dues or sign up for a Lifetime Membership. For dues paid, our members receive a number of benefits, from discounts on bowling products from our sponsors to reduced costs when entering one of our tournaments. In addition, we offer exclusive members-only clinics at each tournament for both novice and advanced bowlers. We work with the United States Bowling Congress (USBC), which governs all bowling in America, in promoting the sport for all to enjoy. Our national sponsors receive recognition at all AWBA events as well as all our publications leading up to an event. We view our relationship with our sponsors as a partnership where each receives benefits that promote both organizations.

Wheelchair bowlers

The future of the AWBA is very bright. In 2019 the sport of wheelchair bowling was approved by the Internationall Paralympic Committee as an Olympic sport. The effort in making this historic announcement was led by the AWBA; the committee charged with preparing the world for wheelchair bowling is also being chaired by the AWBA. This will bring the sport of wheelchair bowling to a truly different level in the world. For those around the world who have been struggling with their country's lack of recognition in the sport, this move by the international community will help remove old obstacles and create new opportunities. What an accomplishment for wheelchair bowlers who have dedicated their lives to the sport! While the process to taking the next step will take a great deal of work, not to mention time, the dedication to making it happen and the efforts being put forth by the AWBA will make it happen for those around the world.

Adaptive sports have come a long way in the last 60 years. It has saved many lives by providing people with disabilities a reason to get up each day and say, "Yes I can." Wheelchair bowling has been an integral part of helping people of all ages and challenges to maintain their dignity while at the same time addressing the burning fire inside them called "competitive drive." We welcome these people to give wheelchair bowling a try!

About the Author

Gary Ryan

Gary Ryan has sat on the Board of Directors as Secretary of the AWBA since 2011. Early retired from the corporate world, he has spent his life working to improve the lives of others. He is an accomplished wheelchair bowler, winning a number of tournaments during his short bowling career. "I have worked to further the goals and objectives of the AWBA during the time I have been involved and will continue to do so for the benefit of our members," he says. Mr. Ryan has served many volunteer organizations that deliver assistance to individuals around the country. "Helping others in their daily life has been a primary objective that I have focused on for many years." Mr. Ryan states, "In the end, I want to make sure that I give back far more than I take out." Mr. Ryan has been a valued asset to the AWBA and his efforts have furthered the growth and development of the organization.

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Date: 4/7/2020 12:00:00 AM

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