SMYRNA, TN (WSMV) - Some parents say there's an incredible impact being made by a Smyrna bowling league.

For two-and-a-half hours on Tuesday nights, lifetime lessons in confidence are being taught.

On one Tuesday night at Smyrna Bowling Center, every lane in a long line had a dynamic duo. On the screen keeping scores, one duo listed themselves as Batman and Robin. Their alter egos, the names they use by day, are Meghan Risner and her bowling buddy, 4-year-old Jackson Coleman.

"He's Batman, I'm Robin," Meghan laughed.

Jackson's mom, Crystal Coleman, smiled nearby while watching Meghan and Jackson bowl together.

Meghan helped Jackson set up the ball and roll it down the lane.

"Go to the back part! Go to the back part!" Jackson cheered.

"Nice spare!" said Meghan, giving Jackson a high five.

Jackson has spina bifida and is paralyzed from below his knees.

It was for children like Jackson that one man wanted to create this bowling league.

Monte Hayes started up Striking Smiles.

"I see all kinds of kids," he said. "I've got them from down syndrome to autism, anxiety, PTSD. I've had kids that have had strokes, heart attacks. I have ones in here bowling that have seizures."

Monte matches them together with bowling buddies and watches the bonds form. Sometimes the connection between buddies can be especially deep.

"I lost a child that was going to be special needs in between the two that I have, and it was something that was missing," said Meghan. "Jackson's just a light."

"I call all these bowlers, they're my kids," said Monte. "I protect my kids when they're in here."

The impact's been felt by parents like Lin Schrader.

"Brian has had a disability since birth," she said, referring to her son who was bowling on one of the lanes. "It's one that hasn't been identified. He has trouble turning his thoughts around in a coherent way rapidly. This is a resource for kids who want to just get involved. Everybody gets along and accepts each other for who they are."

"My shirt says Coach Monte," Monte said, pulling up a chair next to Jackson. "Yours says Assistant Coach on the back, right?"

In this Batman story, Monte is Commissioner Gordon.

"My ultimate goal with this league is to take up all 52 lanes on Tuesday nights, and I'm going to do it," said Monte. "It may take a while, but I'm going to do it. There's ways to make kids more active, help increase their self-esteem, their self-confidence, get them out in the world. I build this on the core values that there's no bullying, no making fun. Everyone is equal, no different depending on disability or ability.”

While Monte finds all those pairs, those dynamic duos, Jackson and Meghan will be back, forever Batman and Robin.

"His face is always smiling," said Meghan. "I think he's adorable. He's just charming and charismatic and just a free spirit. Nothing gets him discouraged. Nothing holds him back."

During their seasons, Striking Smiles meets at 6:30 on Tuesday nights at Smyrna Bowling Center.

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Reporter

Forrest Sanders is an award-winning reporter, videographer and editor at News4.

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