Phillip Butler has one goal on Tuesday afternoons.
"Getting strikes and spares," said Mr. Butler, who is a member of the Alley Cats, a bowling league for teens and adults with special needs.
In its three-year existence, the league has tripled from 15 members to 45, said Pam Stickler, who helped organize the league for her adult son, Stephen Stickler, who is in a wheelchair.
Each Tuesday, members gather at North Augusta's Northside Lanes. Some members of the league are competitive, Mrs. Stickler said, and like to compare each other's scores and reporting to her their actions frame by frame.
However, "there's a lot of flirting going on down there," Mrs. Stickler said, talking about other league members.
When she started the Alley Cats, Mrs. Stickler wanted to find a way for adults with disabilities to have a low-cost social activity.
"A lot of these individuals work together during the day, but some have never met one another. It's a good way to make friends and socialize," she said.
Shawn Mock is an Alley Cats member who likes to bowl for the socializing.
"I get to meet new people," he said.
The initial group came from clients served by Tri-Development Center of Aiken County, which provides services for children and adults with autism, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and mental retardation and related disabilities, according to the organization's Web site.
Some of the individuals require adaptive equipment such as ramps to help them bowl.
Most of the adults in the Alley Cats league are on limited incomes, so Mrs. Stickler arranged for a discounted rate for the league members, and she supplements their portion of the cost with donations from organizations such as the River's Edge and North Augusta Sertoma clubs and the Optimist Club.
"Making it affordable is very important, but free isn't the answer because they have to learn that they have to save their money," she said.
Since the Alley Cats started, other programs for special-needs adults and children have been organized. All of the programs come under the banner of the RECing Crew.
Though the league has expanded, there is room for more interested bowlers and for volunteers who'd like to help, Mrs. Stickler said.
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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