Sask. fans host surprise party for Special Olympics champion

It was a hero's welcome for Richard Dolan.

Supporters organized a surprise party for the longtime Special Olympian at Saskatoon's Elmwood Residences Wednesday afternoon. They brought balloons, decorations, snacks and a cake. Dolan showed up with his wife, Bianca, their daughter, Hayley, his medals and a huge smile.

As he walked into the gymnasium, the crowd yelled "Surprise" and applauded.

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"I was pretty surprised. It kind of jumped up my heart. I thought it was going to miss a beat," he said. "It's great to have all these guests here today."

Dolan won gold in the team bowling event at the recent Special Olympics World Games in the United Arab Emirates. He also captured silver and bronze in singles and doubles bowling.

"The competition was pretty good. I had some fantastic games. I was just in the game zone," he said.

Athletes from around the world took part in 24 different sports, from basketball to swimming to table tennis. Dolan was one of a record six Saskatchewan athletes competing.

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Dolan's coach Ruth Exley came to Wednesday's party. She said Dolan is an amazing bowler — sporting a 186 average — and a great teammate.

"He's just unbelievable. Not only does he do well himself, he helps all the other athletes. They learn from him," Exley said.

The 31-year-old Dolan trained almost daily, juggling his workouts with family life and a full time job at the Dakota Dunes casino.

Dolan plans to take a break from competition to spend some time with his wife and daughter.

Jason Warick/CBC

He said his two-year-old Hayley may some day become a bowler, but she's not showing much interest at the moment.

"We tried it once, but she just had a little fit," he said with a laugh.