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Athlete of the Year: Billy Duquette

On Mother’s Day in 2018, Billy Duquette bowled a 299. The score of 299 in bowling is almost infamous, it means you bowl 11 straight strikes and then miss the final frame by 1-pin. It’s the equivalent to throwing a perfect game in baseball up until the 9th inning with 2-outs and then giving up a hit.

“When I was leaving the house that day, my father was upset that I was bowling on Mother’s Day and he said, ‘You better bowl a 300.’” he reminisced. “They went crazy when I got back and told them.” 


While Billy came up just shy and he admits it was a frustrating moment seeing that pin stand up, it also almost feels like he decided to give the pins a break from knocking them down. He’s just that kind of guy. Billy seems to puts everyone and everything before himself.

His bowling coach Barbara De Lisa said, “I am always glad to see Billy at any event because I know I can count on his help when needed.”

Billy’s sister Michelle is also a Special Olympics athlete. She’s a swimmer and she’s also blind. When she’s in the pool competing, Billy will tap her on the head with a tennis ball as she nears each wall, allowing her to know that it’s time to turn. He lights up when he talks about his role as Michelle’s “tapper.”


Billy is also a Global Messenger and general advocate for his fellow athletes. He’s spoken on numerous occasions to crowds and media on the impact Special Olympics has had on him.

If you had an interaction with Billy outside of Special Olympics you may not know he has a disability. Billy however, wants you to know he has a disability, to help others understand the challenges he and fellow athletes face. Although, he admits that he likes to surprise people with just how good of a bowler he can be.

While there is no doubting Billy’s excellence as a bowler, he’s just a great person and that’s why he’s also being honored as this year’s Athlete of the Year.

To support athletes like Joe, visit specialolympicsva.org/makeasplash.