In The News

Bowling, bonding
Paralyzed father takes son to hospital event

Rocky Mountain News
By Rosa Ramirez

Ron GulickRon Gulick, 35, uses an IKAN, a device attached to his wheelchair, to compete in a bowling tournament. Gulick scored 100 points as his son, Jack, cheered him on.

The weekend before Ron Gulick’s truck rolled over during a hunting trip, he threw a bowling bash for his son Jack as an early birthday present. The boy was turning 5 and Gulick wanted to host an activity they would both enjoy.

On Nov. 10, Jack’s birthday, Gulick was involved in an accident near Kansas City. His truck rolled three times and ejected him, said Mary Gulick, Ron’s mother. The crash left Gulick, 35, of Independence, Mo., paralyzed from the neck down.

On Sunday, he and his son had the chance to bowl once again during Craig Hospital’s second annual Power Wheelchair Bowling tournament at the AMF Belleview Lanes in Englewood. The tourney was open to the hospital’s current and former quadriplegics and their families.

About 10 people participated.

“My daddy made a strike,” Jack Gulick cheered during a game, as relatives – all wearing matching gray T-shirts that read “Rally for Ron” – clapped and cheered.

Bowlers’ wheelchairs were fitted with an IKAN, a metal bowling device. The device is adjusted to fit the size of the person “so they can have total control,” said Brenda Bertrand, a therapeutic recreation specialist with Craig Hospital.

A bowling ball is placed on the top of the device’s caddy, allowing the bowler to direct the ball as they move forward in the bowling lane.

“It’s a fun activity,” Bertrand said. “Ron used to bowl with his kid. This is something that he’ll be able to continue to do with his child.”

Vincent De La Cruz, 46, won second place in last year’s tournament. “It’s a lot of fun. It also brings normality to your life,” De La Cruz said.

Wendy De La Cruz, his wife, said the tournament is more than a game. It’s an opportunity to educate others that no matter what the condition of a person in a wheelchair is, each has the ability to adjust to his or her surroundings.

“Sometimes we get the empathetic look. Other times they just ignore you completely,” she said. “We don’t need pity. We need understanding.”

For Ron Gulick, seeing his only son roll a strike was the highlight of the tournament.

“He’s doing a great job. He had his first strike of his life and you know what he said? ‘This one’s for you, Dad.’ ”