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Squirrel Hill bowler headed to Seattle for Special Olympics USA Games

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Isadora Silk, 41, will compete in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle from July 1-6.
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Isadora Silk, 41, aims her bowling ball before firing it at a practice in an area bowling alley. Silk will compete in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle from July 1-6.

Isadora Silk has a track record of winning, both in the bowling alley or in the hospital.

Silk, 41, of Squirrel Hill hopes to continue that winning streak next week during the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.

She traveled to Philadelphia on Friday, where she and 50 teammates will have a celebratory breakfast Saturday before being escorted to the airport to catch Seattle’s opening ceremony on Sunday for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. The games run from July 1 to July 6.

Jeff Truxell, of Moon, her coach of about eight years, will travel with her to Seattle. He said Silk is a solid competitor.

“She’s good. And she’s steadily improved over the years. Her bowling average is 146 and she helps her teammates learn,” he said.

Silk has participated in the Special Olympics since 2005. In 2006, she won a gold medal in bowling from China after competing in the Special Olympics Shanghai Invitational Games. She last competed nationally in the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey and won three gold medals.

But between competitions in Shanghai and New Jersey, Silk competed for her life in a battle against a rare form of cancer.

“I had Ewing’s sarcoma, in my kidneys,” she said.

The disease affects bones or the soft tissue around the bones, according to Mayo Clinic. In Silk’s case, she underwent a year-long regimen of chemotherapy. She said she lost all her hair and both kidneys as a result of the disease.

“I thank God that it’s done. I don’t want to go through that again,” Silk said, adding that she was elated to get back in the bowling alley.

Special Olympics athletes must have intellectual or physical disabilities. Silk is on the autism spectrum, said her father, Leonard Silk.

“She had some cognitive difficulties when she was growing up. She was born in 1977, and back then, they didn’t really have a word for it,” he said, referring to the autism spectrum. “But she’s pretty independent.”

He said his daughter works as a cashier at Rite Aid in Squirrel Hill. Leonard Silk is grateful for the opportunities the Special Olympics has offered her since she began competing 18 years ago.

“Special Olympics provides a wonderful platform for people to participate in athletic events that they wouldn’t be able to participate in,” he said. “It’s also a great platform to meet people from all over the world.”

Although Silk aims for another win, she is more looking forward to the whole experience.

“I just like the game – I think the game is fun. And I like meeting all the new people and playing with friends I already have – and the traveling,” Silk said.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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