The 14th annual Strike Out Hunger, scheduled for Jan. 29, 2011, at River Rand Bowl in Des Plaines, is an entertaining and educational evening, hosted by the Nine To Twelve League to benefit Vital Bridges.
After all, the three games of bowling include three very unique themes, such as partner bowlone person bowls the first ball and his/her partner bowls the second ball. There's also bowling bingo, a team competition that emphasizes strategy; and the ever-popular cosmic bowlingwith the lights down, music up and such unconventional bowling methods as bowling between your legs or without your hands.
To date, Strike Out Hunger has raised about $75,000 for Vital Bridges (and one of its predecessor organizations, HIVCO).
"The GLBT community has been impacted by AIDS and HIV, so the important work [done] by Vital Bridges to provide food, shelter and comfort is recognized by our bowlers," said John Paquet, president of the Nine To Twelve League. "Strike Out Hunger is designed to do a few things. First, we want to raise money as that is a continuing issue to ensure provision of service.
"Second, we want to continue to raise awareness. With HIV and AIDS still present throughout society, it is important to continue to talk about the disease and the agencies that help those impacted. Personally, I look forward to the day we can say, 'Welcome to the LAST Strike Out Hunger event to raise funds for Vital Bridges.' But we're not there yet.
"Third, it is important to promote the great work that Vital Bridges continues to perform throughout Illinois. Several of our bowlers have become drivers for Vital Bridges and personally deliver food and supplies from the pantries to persons living with HIV. These connections are important as an additional support for people fighting to stay healthy and independent."
Strike Out Hunger costs $30 per person, or $150 for a team of six. The event spans 24 lanes, with a maximum of 144 bowlers, and has been filled to capacity for the past couple of years. The fee includes pizza and snacks, three games of bowling and shoe rental.
As bowlers enter River Rand, they are able to purchase raffle tickets for a variety of prizes, including tickets to baseball games, wine baskets, hotel stays, theater tickets and more. Prizes donated by businesses and individuals are raffled after the first and second games.
"Strike Out Hunger began as an idea from one of the bowlers who also volunteered with HIVCO, a predecessor organization to Vital Bridges," Paquet said. "The goal was simple: raise money to purchase food and supplies. Over the years, the event has expanded and, for the past couple of years, has sold out. New twists have been added, including bowling using No-Tap Rules, Bowling Bingo, Cosmic Bowling, etc. Jim Stubblefield, a founder of the Nine to Twelve League, volunteers his time and energy to play music throughout the evening. The prize table has continued to expand and larger items are low available through a second tier of raffle tickets.
"I am very proud of the support of our two bowling leagues in helping Vital Bridges through our annual Strike Out Hunger bowling event, fall food drives, and the volunteers who distribute food and resources to many individuals impacted by HIV and AIDS. The team from Vital Bridges has been incredible to work with from the staff level up through their executive leaders and board members."
Paquet, who lives in Des Plaines and works for the Chicago Transit Authority, has been bowling in local gay leagues for 15 yearsand boasts a 160 average. He now bowls for the Priapisms with three teammates in the Nine to Twelve and the Nice To Twelve No-Tap Leagues.
To register for Strike Out Hunger 14, go to www.vitalbridges.org .