Condors form a "Special" bond off the ice

Posted at 3:44 PM, Feb 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-05 21:28:02-05

A number of this year's Condors players came from the AHL team, the Oklahoma City Barons, and it's a tradition the players started there that's followed them to Bakersfield.

Inside the AMF Southwest bowling alley, players from the Bakersfield Condors partnered with their very own athlete from the Special Olympics. 

"It's something you take home with you and you realize just how much change you can instill in somebody," said Condors' All-Star Brad Hunt who was part of the program in OKC.

For parents of those special athletes, getting the call that their son or daughter was picked made it feel like Christmas morning. 

"It gives every child no matter what disability it is a chance to walk out there and stand proud and feel a part just like anyone else," said Susan Webster, the mother of one of the athletes.

But for one pairing it's not clear who the adopted athlete is. Josh Winquist is in his third year in the AHL. He's having a breakout campaign, already scoring seven times this season. But it's his chemistry off the ice was evident from day one.

"He really seemed to gravitate toward's Mary when we did our first meet-up," said Mary's mother, Danielle Evansic.

If their relationship looks like a fraternal bond, it's because that's what Josh sees.

"It's a little more special to me because I have a sister who has spina bifida," said Josh Winquist who growing up with his sister saw her struggles first hand. And that's why anything that can be done to make Mary's day a little brighter, he's more than willing to do.

"Some of them have gone through a lot-picked on in school and stuff for example and to have them know you have their back and care about them it's just all they want," said Winquist.

So while it may be just another night at the alley, for those bowling the night was anything but typical. And these athletes will just keep rolling with whatever life brings.

The Special Olympic athletes have another meet-up with the Condors this weekend. They'll be at the game tomorrow night and will meet the players again after the game.


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