Daily Egyptian

Bowl ‘n Bop

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

A barrage of inflatable beach volleyballs and bowling pins were flung throughout the Student Center Ballroom as a DJ played the crowd favorite, “YMCA” by the Village People.

More than 700 people gathered Friday for the annual Bowl ‘n Bop fundraiser, which benefits southern Illinois citizens with disabilities. About $5,000 was collected at this year’s event. 

Dancing among the crowd was Bowl ‘n Bop committee member Verna Webb, who said people from all over the area came to the Student Center.

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“We have people coming in from as far as Mount Vernon today,” Webb said. “It’s great for them to come out here and have a good time.”

While the event acted as a fundraiser for the area, getting the disabled community together out having a good time was the message Bowl ‘n Bop committee director Lindsey Radcliffe wanted to convey.

“It’s a great way to introduce people to the intellectually-challenged population,” Radcliffe said. “It’s not about dancing and it’s not about bowling; it’s about giving these people a chance to make memories.”

Four hundred sixty-nine nametags were given to the registered visitors, around 150 volunteers and more than 100 caretakers and center employees were in attendance. Coordinating the bowling groups effectively was a hectic task to say the least, said committee member Ryan McAllister.

McAllister helped with the bowling and also serves as the executive director of the JR Centre in Anna. The center serves college-aged individuals with disabilities. 

“Looking at the faces of the people here and seeing their enjoyment is all you need to know,” McAllister said.

Also helping out with bowling was fraternity Alpha Tau Omega.  Philanthropy Chairman Kohl Lamb was one of the leaders of the event.

“We helped with the ramps and retrieving balls, it was good just to have fun with them,” said Lamb, a sophomore from Ottawa studying aviation flight.

Radcliffe called on local businesses and community members to help pay for the rental of the Student Center’s ballrooms and bowling alley, which cost about $6,000.

T-shirt sales and a registration fee also help the Bowl ‘n Bop Committee fundraise.

“We charged $5 to register for today, and another $5 for a t-shirt, but we hope in the near future we won’t need a registration fee,” Radcliffe said.

Committee member Julie Anderson said another benefit of Friday’s event was the gathering of guardians with similar experiences. 

“As a mother of a child with Down syndrome, it’s great exchanging experiences with other mothers in the same situation,” Anderson said.

Sabrina Hacker, caretaker for Mike Rozycki, of Anna, said Rozycki had a good time at the event. 

“Bowling was my favorite part, I got two strikes,” Rozycki said.

More events for the cause are on the way, including a cookout in May.

The citizens with disabilities will gather at Blyer’s Pond, behind Midland Inn in Murphysboro, on May 15. Frank Byler, whose son has disabilities, started the annual day of fishing, grilling and picnicking more than 20 years ago. State Police and other local volunteers will be there to serve food and help out.

For more information, visit the Bowl ‘n Bop Facebook page.

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