Posted by: sonewjersey | October 31, 2011

Becky Visalli Heads to Greece!

A Family’s Journey to World Games

When our daughter, Becky Visalli, started bowling we never imagined the opportunities that would be available for her, and for our family.

In 2007, Becky was a new sixth grader at Bankbridge Regional School and a parent there suggested that she try bowling. We thought it sounded like a good opportunity for her to have fun and meet new friends. After bowling the fall season with the team, Becky qualified to go to the first round of competition with Special Olympics. That is where our journey began!

Not only did Becky enjoy socializing with her friends and meeting new people, she found a real joy in bowling. Then, after placing first in her division in 2009, she received an invitation to try out for Team NJ for the 2010 National Games in Nebraska. We explained to her that if she made the team she would need to go away for a week. She thought that sounded like fun; we were a bit nervous.

Becky was selected for Team NJ and received wonderful encouragement and support from her coach Della Porter. She developed great friendships with her 3 bowling teammates and won 3 medals at the National Games! We were so proud and happy for her. Soon after returning from Nebraska, Becky received a letter stating she was selected for TEAM USA to compete in Athens, Greece for the 2011 World Games! She read the letter to her Dad, Brother, and me. We all laughed and cried together, celebrating the good news.

Becky trained hard all year. She bowled with her school team and with her dad in a youth/adult league. She received a tremendous amount of support along the way. Her coaches, family, friends, and the staff at Westbrook Bowling Lanes (where she practiced with her coach Laura Gillan), all offered words of encouragement along the way. Becky’s new school, Clearview Regional Middle School, was behind her as well. Her teachers and classmates organized a send-off rally. The halls were decorated in red, white and blue for the festivities. Everyone cheered for her and wished her luck as she walked down the halls before leaving for Greece!

Becky arrived in Greece with her own cheering squad; Mom, Dad, Brother CJ, and Janet, her teacher from Clearview and husband, TJ Habina. We were as eager to enjoy the adventure in Greece as she was! There were many highlights on our trip, but watching Becky and her fellow TEAM USA bowlers was our number one. We, of course, were present for every bowling event …and also squeezed in some sightseeing in Athens and surrounding areas. It was a thrill to see Becky’s success and watch her joy (ours too!) when she competed and received each of her medals.

The Opening Ceremonies were an incredibly touching experience. We watched each team parade into the stadium with pride and saw the excitement on each of the athletes faces; then we saw our own daughter and her excitement. It created feelings difficult to describe.

It wasn’t hard to spot a Special Olympics World Games participant; we all wore our I.D. badges proudly. It was great to meet other family members from around the world. Though sometimes the language barrier was an issue, the energy and excitement could be felt. We shared stories of our athletes and our experiences in Greece with whomever we met. We became friends with the parents of Becky’s roommate from South Carolina and now are looking forward to visiting with them this winter.

When asked to describe Greece and her experience Becky says, “It was beautiful. It was different and awesome.” She says, “I really liked the bowling”, but she also says that she made some really good friends. And, how did it feel to win two gold and one bronze medal? “I was all in smiles” and “it felt great!”

Through the years we’ve watched our shy, little girl grow into a confident young woman. Becky developed confidence through her bowling and the opportunities it has presented her. With SONJ she has attended competitions, press conferences and traveled the world. Becky has expressed that she would love to have another opportunity to travel with Team NJ or Team USA. We are all grateful for the amazing experiences she has had, and the wonderful people from SONJ and TEAM USA who touched all of our lives.

We all plan to be part of the National Games in 2014, volunteering to help make a great experience for other athletes and families. Of course, Becky hopes she is one of the athletes!. We are constantly telling others about SONJ and encouraging families to get involved. We are very proud to say we are an SONJ family!

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Responses

  1. Way to go Becky Visalli! This is an awesome article. You are an inspiration!
    ~SJ and BT

  2. Great Job Becky Visalli. Geddy and I are very proud of you.

  3. I’m tearing up with joy and pride for your family. Way to go Becky! Way to go family! SONJ!!!


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