MILTON — Saturday’s Special Olympics bowling competition attracted a number of participants to Oops Alley in Pace, according to Michael Stone, director of Escambia and Santa Rosa County Special Olympics.

“We had so many athletes in bowling,” he said. “This (event) has got 170 (participants), we had 62 from Escambia and 31 from Santa Rosa. The cool thing about that is that Santa Rosa had, like, seven athletes in this event last year.”

The area competition decided who would compete in the Dec. 2 state-level bowling competition in Orlando.

Stone credits word of mouth and social media for the participation increase.

In addition to Santa Rosa and Escambia counties, competitors traveled to Pace from neighboring Okaloosa and Walton counties.

While bowling is just a fraction of athletic events featured in area Special Olympics — which include golf, paddle boarding, swimming, gymnastics and powerlifting, among others — Stone said funding and support for such events come from the community.

“We don’t charge athletes anything or their parents anything,” he said. “We depend on community involvement and donations.”

In addition to monetary donations, which help cover the costs of travel to state competitions, uniforms and equipment, residents can support local Special Olympics through volunteering or coaching.

Call 291-6234 to volunteer or donate to Santa Rosa County Special Olympics.