June 12, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Wishelle Banks or Bob Sagan
Reno, Nev. - As double amputee Jean Farr of Tustin, Calif., wrapped up her third game of Division 2 team play May 31 at the 2006 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships presented by the Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus, she couldn't help but think, "here we go again*"
Farr, 76, of the Tustin Aces, wears two prosthetic feet, which somehow managed to fail her - again.
"I was bowling very poorly 'til the last game, about the ninth frame," Farr explains. "After I rolled the ball, I turned and as I did, I heard something click and the prosthesis starting digging into my right shin bone. So I hobbled back to the settee area, telling myself, 'I have one more frame, and I'm going to finish the game.' So when my turn came, I got up and thought, 'Hopefully I only have to throw one ball or two balls.' As it was, I threw a strike and knew I had to throw another ball. Then I threw another strike and I had to throw yet another ball. I ended up with my highest game, which was 154. I should have done that in the first game and I'd have had a good series."
The manufacturer of Farr's prosthetic feet claim the devices - constructed of the same carbon fiber used to make wings for 747 jets - cannot be broken. Farr begs to differ.
"There's a little tiny crack. The specialist who provided the prostheses said I've broken everything else he's given me - six sets of feet in six, seven years. Now he's got feet that have a metal thing going all the way from the toe to the heel, that has a wedge, a lift, so that when I step down, this wedge adapts to my walking. He built the legs I have on, so my feet are splayed, like a duck waddles, which was supposed to give me balance sideways. Because right now, I have no way of stopping myself from going forward, backward or sideways - it's like being on stilts, with no upper control. When I called him this morning and told him that his invention didn't quite work, he couldn't believe it."
Farr had games of 140 and 103 to go along with her 154 game. Teammate Ginny Snodgrass, with whom Farr has bowled for more than 40 years, also had a bit of bad luck when she arrived in Reno. In the hotel lobby, Snodgrass, 85, tripped over another bowler's bag and fell, ending up with a bloody nose and what she thinks may be an injury to her wrist. Even then, Snodgrass rolled 130, 116 and 155 in team competition with her friend Farr.
"My wrist didn't start hurting until about an hour later," says Snodgrass, who at least was able to pick up her Women's Championships plaque commemorating 25 years of national tournaments. Both women credit Tustin Aces teammates, especially Rocena Pulsipher, whose scores of 169, 157 and 160 buoyed their wounded women bowlers.
Farr lost her feet in 1994, through a series of unfortunate circumstances. While in the hospital for back surgery, her doctors discovered an aortic aneurysm. Subsequent complications from the surgery resulted in the loss of her feet five weeks later.
Returning to bowling proved to be a saving grace for Farr, who's been at it since the late '50s. A 14-year member of the Orange County Women's Bowling Association, Farr works four days a week as a league coordinator at Tustin Lanes, where she discovered the Bowlers to Veterans Link (BVL) campaign to send portable bowling lane kits to GIs in Iraq, Afghanistan and other distant dispatches. With concerted efforts and an ability to rally other bowlers, Farr rounded up $4,000 and sent 14 bowling kits to Iraq.
Through it all, Farr, a mother and grandmother who's been married to husband Jim for nearly 18 years, remains a glass-is-half-full kind of lady.
"I have people walk up to me who I've never met before in my life and say, 'You are such an inspiration,' a label that might make some people uncomfortable.
"Not anymore," she says without hesitation. "I'm not uncomfortable with any of it anymore."