At the end of the week, Tooele resident and avid-bowler Todd Lorenzo will travel to Berlin, Germany to compete in the Special Olympics World Games. From June 17-25, Lorenzo will take part in the worldwide event featuring thousands of athletes, including over 200 bowlers.
Lorenzo, 54 and originally from Fremont, California, works as a bagger at Macey’s and has bowled for over 30 years. Recently, he joined a local team called the Tooele County Giants just over a year ago.
While on the team, he was linked up with coach Brandon Salvesonas, who has been acting as Lorenzo’s unified partner. A unified partner is someone who does not have an intellectual disability, but is matched with an athlete to function as a mentor and a coach, in addition to playing in each event. Since their partnership began, they have had varying levels of success and their latest string of victories earned them a spot to compete on the world’s stage.
“We took first in area (olympic) games, which allowed us to go to the state competition,” Salveson said of the pair’s journey to the upcoming olympics “To qualify to get into the drawing to go for worlds, we had to take first in state as well.”
With the drawing taking place over Zoom, and their names among the four other state teams, Salveson said his phone fell out of his hands in disbelief.
“I was like, there’s no way we’re going,” he said.
This will be Lorenzo’s first trip overseas and was just as elated when he learned his name had been drawn out of a hat to become one of the two bowlers to represent Utah at the global Special Olympics event.
“I think it was wonderful and it was great that we’ve got the opportunity to go to Germany for the first time,” Lorenzo said. “I’m pretty excited to go there and meet new friends and root everybody on.”
For Lorenzo, the Special Olympics have provided him the opportunity to be supported by his community and socialize, all while playing the sport he loves. Even though he stepped away from bowling for a short period of time a while back, he ultimately couldn’t stay away.
“I wanted to come back and make new friends,” he said. “I love to meet new friends, get to know them and compete in sports with them.”
Kathy Greenland, Lorenzo’s sister-and-law, says she and the rest of the family are looking forward to the event as well, and says she’s jealous of the bystanders who will be watching all the North American athletes as they traverse the airports on their way to Berlin.
“I wish I could be a fly on the wall, especially at the airport, when all of the teams get together and go from New York to Germany,” Greenland said. “I’m very excited for it, it’s going to be fantastic.”
Opening ceremonies for the Berlin Special Olympics World Games begin June 17 at 1 p.m. The duo will start playing from the 21st to 24, starting with the unified doubles on the 21st and traditional doubles on the 22nd. Then, from June 23-24 the unified and traditional singles will be held.
ESPN will be the official broadcaster for the games, with the opening ceremony airing on ABC and most games scheduled to be streamed on the ESPN + platform. For more information on the Special Olympics visit the Special Olympics USA Facebook page.