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Athlete Spotlight, Olivia Carpenter   

Olivia Carpenter is so good at bowling there is an event named after her in Keizer, Oregon: ‘Bowlivia!’  

Now 20 years old, Olivia joined Special Olympics Oregon as an athlete in 2015, at age 11. She has competed in basketball, track, and bowling, but bowling is her favorite. 

Said Olivia’s mom, Jessica, “Olivia and her dad started bowling years ago. It’s been a fun daddy/daughter activity, and she excels at it! It’s an independent sport, and that’s helpful to her.” 

‘Bowlilvia’ is a fundraiser to support Olivia’s fundraising efforts with the upcoming Polar Plunge in Salem. Olivia said with a giggle “pins for plunging!”  

With the help of Jessica, who owns Meetings, Management, and More in Salem is also the Salem Polar Plunge Event Manager, and sister Vanessa, Olivia creates and represents fun offshoot events like ‘Bowlivia” that precede and support Special Olympic Oregon’s biggest annual fundraising series: Polar Plunge.  

Polar Plunge events take place in six communities: Salem, Bend, Eugene, Corvallis, Medford, and Portland, and the Salem plunge is the first in the series. Funds raised support the mission and competitions throughout the year for Special Olympics Oregon, directly impacting the lives of the athletes served. 

When Olivia was born, she wasn’t expected to be able to walk. Now she runs the 5k that takes place prior to the Salem Polar Plunge and anticipates with great excitement the return of the Special Olympics Oregon Summer State Games. “I might do the 100-meter dash!”, she said with a giant smile, “I’m so glad it’s back.” 

Asked if she is taking the plunge at Polar Plunge, Olivia laughed and said “I’m not a water kid. I think the water is too cold! But I love to do the 5k.” She loves seeing old teachers and classmates at the Polar Plunge and watching the community of Salem/Keizer come together in support of the cause. 

“I have a lot of fun with my friends,” she said, “and it keeps me active and in shape. I like seeing my teammates at these events, and I’m so glad we are back in person. I did not like the pandemic!” 

She continued, “Special Olympics Oregon makes me feel good about myself. Have community. And stay engaged.” 

Adds her mom, “Special Olympics Oregon has been life changing for Olivia and our family. She has learned motor skills. It is so much more fun than physical therapy. Our whole family supports the organization; it has added so much to our lives, and to Olivia’s life.”