From tournaments to raffles to dinner dances, associations and leagues conduct a wide range of activities to support BVL. Here’s just a sampling of ideas from around the country.
In 1950, the bowlers of California made a solemn promise to our veterans: “We won’t forget you.” Judging by their overwhelming BVL success, they have kept that promise… raising more than $8,600,000 to date. Thanks to the guidance of the California USBC, their BVL effort continues strong, to purchase a wide variety of recreational programs and services to speed recuperation and boost the spirits of those who have served our country.
Their effort begins at the local level, where association officials visit all the leagues and bowlers one-on-one, raising funds through donations, holding tournaments, bake sales and various other fund raisers. Many of the local associations have large community-based programs, holding BBQ’s, picnics, even rodeos (!) and much more.
The centerpiece of their efforts is a state BVL tournament, recently renamed “Helen Duval Veterans Tournament,” in honor of the long-time BVL spokesperson and California native. There are six women’s divisions, five men’s divisions, and six divisions each for youth girls and boys.
The winners of each division receive a California BVL jacket with the logo and their name, a BVL watch and a BVL medallion. The items are sent to the winners’ local associations for presentation.
The local VA hospitals, VA State Homes and Vet Centers near the tournament site are invited to attend the opening ceremony and each are given time to address the bowlers in that squad, and share with them how the donated funds are used to support the veterans. Often, the VA Medical Center provides an Honor/Color Guard for the opening ceremonies. All veterans bowling in the tournament are also acknowledged at each squad.
BVL shirts, towels and pins are offered at the tournament site and convention, raising additional funds.
State BVL Chair Rosie Parker explains that they are always sure to recognize those local associations which donated $2 or more per member at their state convention. They also provide awards for the three top local associations. Every local association receives a certificate with the BVL logo, detailing the total contributions made by each. Rosie adds that they work closely with each of the California VA hospitals, homes and centers, making personal visits whenever possible.
Rosie concludes, “Our debt to our veterans is profound. It is important for us to help and support those who give so much so that we may continue to enjoy our freedom and be safe here at home.”
Virginia State USBC
Like California, in some states BVL is an institution… Virginia is another of them.
Virginia focuses their BVL fundraising during their state events – their Women’s Open, Senior and Mixed Tournaments. They assign someone to be responsible each weekend during the tournaments to collect donations for every squad. They also encourage all 24 local associations to do the same during their tournaments. They have several local associations which conduct a BVL tournament annually that are very successful. At all membership meetings they conduct a ball raffle, sometimes a quilt raffle; they have even raffled Barbie Dolls!
State Association Manager Johnny Harris notes that the secret to their success is designating a committee, with a strong leader, to come up with a plan each year. “We have tried several things for getting donations and we have found that if you find a worker who is pleasant and has a big smile when approaching an individual for a contribution we almost always get a donation. For us, the one-on-one approach works very well.”
Johnny says that he knows his association members understand the BVL cause, “I feel it’s because we have several Veteran Hospitals in Virginia and as we visit these hospitals, we see these people who gave up their freedom for us. The least we can do is to try helping them live the rest of their lives comfortably.”
Greater Charlotte USBC Association Charlotte, N.C.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, BVL is not a project assigned to an individual or a committee: BVL is a group affair. The Greater Charlotte USBC Board of Directors works together as a single entity to create a successful drive. Each director takes time out of their busy schedules to raise funds for the veterans — spending every night at the centers in their area collecting for BVL.
Association Manager Linda Thomas says they’ve had great success with a new addition to their program. They decorate several large white buckets with pictures of family members (present and deceased) who have served in the military. They add decals which represent a different branch of the armed forces. One board member makes up a schedule of leagues and makes sure that every league is visited in their center. Prior to walking through the centers with the bucket, an announcement is made explaining the BVL drive and then asks those that have family members who have served our country in uniform to step onto the approach to be recognized by their fellow bowlers.
“We understand the importance of our BVL contributions that come back here to our local hospital, but we also know the funds we provide to BVL National means our North Carolina veterans can enjoy the “Re-Creation” show, or compete in the annual BVL/VA Tournament, or perhaps go on to participate in the national events like the Creative Arts Festival or the Wheelchair Games,” comments Linda. “Our Board members really believe in and support this important cause.”
Lowell Lovgren, Washington State USBC
Lowell is not afraid of a challenge. He’s also not afraid of pink… or ballet attire. What he is afraid of is not raising enough money for a charity he really believes in – the Bowlers to Veterans Link.
It all began at a Washington State annual Jamboree. USBC representative Sharon Moen was at the meeting and she was talking about issuing challenges. That’s when Lowell got the idea: He’d issue a challenge to those in attendance that if they raised $1,000 for BVL, he would wear a pink tutu, and for another $500 donation, he would dye his goatee pink. Approximately 20 associations were in attendance to hear Lowell issue the challenge. Central Washington USBC stepped forward for the initial $1,000 contribution. Soon, the rest of the group started making contributions of $20 and more. Lowell reached his goal of $1,500 in short order.
That next year, at the Washington State annual meeting, Lowell made good on his promise. Lowell donned a pink tutu, made especially for him by his wife, Sandi. To the delight of the Washington State USBC membership, Lowell carried through with his promise, looking like a vision in pink.
What motivates Lowell? “I’m a veteran,” he says. “I enlisted in the Army in 1978. I thought I should serve my country.” Lowell explains that when he was active duty one of the programs that really made a difference for him was the USO. “Sometimes, it’s just the little extra things that brighten your day. It boosts your morale and keeps you going. BVL does just that. It’s a great cause that deserves our support.”
Iowa State USBC WBA
The State of Iowa has really ramped up their BVL over the past few years, the centerpiece of which is an annual BVL Mail-In-Tournament the week of Veteran’s Week in November; it is 100% handicap from 240.
It is open to both men and women who are members of the Iowa State WBA or BA. They charge a $5 entry fee, and use their league scores.
Explains Iowa’s Connie Rommel: “We promote BVL every place we can: at workshops, conventions, newsletters and at the bowling centers. Some of the associations have a personal challenge to get more entries every year than some others. It’s very effective!”
Steve Schumacher, Greater Kansas City (MO) USBC
Over the years, the Greater Kansas City USBC has supported the BVL effort – some here, some there. That was before Steve Schumacher got involved.
That was before Steve attended the 2010 USBC Convention and heard the BVL presentation. There, he listened as the BVL Board Chair spoke about the importance of the BVL campaign – the difference it was making every day in the lives of America’s heroes. He heard the entertainment troupe “Re-Creation” deliver their performance of uplifting music and song – the same one they give almost every day of the year for our veterans on behalf of BVL. Steve came home with a mission: To get the Greater Kansas City USBC on board with the BVL program in a big way.
Steve has taken charge of the Greater Kansas City BVL fund-raising; spearheading the association’s efforts to raise funds to help veterans and active duty servicemen and women.
They have already brought in 50 % more than last year. He has a goal of raising an equal amount as what the entire state of Missouri did last year!
“We feel that our veterans need and deserve recognition for all that they have given to us as a country,” says Steve. “Since 1942, BVL has assisted our dedicated veterans and I want everyone and not only bowlers, to be aware of the wonderful opportunities BVL gives to our veterans.”
Ft. Collins (CO) USBC
Through play and promotion, the Ft. Collins USBC has created a successful BVL campaign.
First, it’s the promotion. Ft. Collins President Sandra Eckert notes they really go out of their way to make sure everyone knows about their BVL activities, “I think the biggest key to our success is getting the word out about the events we do. Not only do we put posters and fliers up at the bowling centers but we use social media, plus print and radio spots as well.”
Play Number One: They hold a BVL Mail-O-Graphic bowling tournament for one week in November coinciding with Veterans Day. This tournament is held during regular league play, so there is no special time needed for participants to join in. The entry fee is $5 with all proceeds going to the BVL. Prizes are collected by board members and distributed to the top three bowlers in different categories.
Play Number Two: Ft. Collins USBC also coordinates a casino bus trip that is conducted the same week. Now in its 10th year, area bowlers look forward to the annual event and the fun built in. Sandy explains, “We work with a charter company and the casino to get a discounted rate for the transportation service, special promotions from the host casino. We charge participants a nominal fee for a day of fun and it all benefits BVL!”
Model T. Seniors League, New Milford, PA
Sticking to a commitment for a year is often hard to do… five years seems impossible. Ten? Remarkable. How about 30? Unthinkable.
Well, think again. For more than 30 years, a group of caring and committed league bowlers from a center inNew Milford,Penn.has maintained their pledge to BVL, sending in a contribution every year since the formation of their league in 1979.
League Secretary Linda Miller explains it this way, “When the league was formed, we had many ex-military personnel who were interested in honoring the military. When they heard about the work and activities of BVL, they made a decision to contribute. And we’re sticking with that!”
Karla Richey, Rapid City, South Dakota
Rapid City USBC Association Manager Karla Richey knows how to give.
She’s given of her time — serving as president of the Rapid City YABA for eight years, taking an active role in the Rapid City WIBC from 2002-2006, and now acting as the association manager of the merged USBC for the past four years.
Karla also knows how to give her money. As a rural letter carrier inRapid Cityfor 29 years, she has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Combined Federal Campaign, the largest unified charitable program in the nation, operated by the federal government. For years, Karla has faithfully donated directly from her paycheck to a number of causes including heart and lung health, as that has had a personal impact on her family. Last year, however, when Karla was flipping through the CFC listings, she came across another charity that has always been near and dear to her heart – BVL. “When I saw BVL in the book, it was like ‘Aha! Perfect!” for me,” explained Karla. “My husband is a veteran, and my dad was a veteran. They took such good care of my dad at the VA hospital and I know how important BVL is. It was great to have the opportunity to give to BVL personally through my work as well as through our association efforts.” BVL’s CFC # is 93325.
Aguadilla (Puerto Rico) USBC Youth
The Aguadilla (Puerto Rico) USBC Youth bowlers know all about thanking our service men and women through BVL’s “Operation: Honor Force.”
“This is a great opportunity for our youth bowlers to get involved in a project that meets two great needs,” explains Kathleen Quintana, Youth Coordinator in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico. “First, we get to publicly thank our friends and neighbors who have served our country via the on-line “salute” at the BVL website. And second, it combines something that I feel is very important for our youth – public service – with a sport we already know we love: bowling!”
So far, the youth league, with only 18 bowlers ranging in age from nine to 19, has recognized two of their hometown heroes. The first was Spec. Carla Sanchez, who completed two tours of duty in Iraq as a combat medic, and the second, Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Leppert, a Black Hawk pilot who took part in many humanitarian missions including assisting in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“Operation: Honor Force” was developed by BVL to honor military personnel – active duty, reservist or veteran, living or deceased – for their service to our country. Individual bowlers as well as organized groups, including leagues, associations, bowling centers or businesses, can join together to honor a hometown hero, friend, or family member.
To participate, interested parties complete an “Operation: Honor Force” form (www.BowlforVeterans.org/OHF.html) providing information about the honoree’s service. The form and contribution, along with a photo of the honoree if available, is submitted to the BVL offices. BVL posts the tribute on the BVL website, and sends an acknowledgement of the recognition to the honoree or his or her family.
The Friday Nite Short Crew, Moline, Illinois
In the course of four years, The Friday Nite Short Crew, a small mixed league (with several veterans participating) from Highland Park Lanes in Moline, Illinois, has demonstrated its support of BVL by sending portable carpet kits to our active duty troops.
It all started when league Secretary/Treasurer Susan Wykoff (a veteran herself) attended the USBC convention as a delegate for her local association and was impressed with the presentation about BVL’s lanes for the troops. She spoke about it with her league: many commented that maybe this was something they could do together.
Sue and her husband drove to Rockford, Illinois where they met with one of the BVL committee members on the carpet lane project, proprietor John Sommer. Sue and her husband returned to Moline with a kit. The next month at the league meeting, Sue asked anyone interested to stay after the league meeting to discuss the kit project. To Sue’s surprise, everyone stayed.
They decided to try a 9-Pin No Tap in which the bowlers would be bowling for door prizes rather than a cash prize fund. They worked together to get the tournament up and running. Everyone got involved with collecting donations/door prizes, handing out entry forms and getting the word out on what was being planned.
The group didn’t forget about promoting the event. They contacted a local sports writer and past ABC Board member. It resulted in an article in The Dispatch and Argus. Soon after, four of the league members and the kit were featured on the Davenport, Iowa television show, Paula Sands Live.
On their first Tournament day – they had 51 entries. They sold the BVL “Support the Troops” wristbands and in return contributors got an entry for the BVL patriotic Viz-A- Ball. The league conducted a bake sale and had a 50/50 drawing. The group had collected enough door prizes so that every bowler received something.
During the course of events, they collected the names of service members. It was the intent that once all of the money was counted, and they knew how many kits they could purchase, they would enter the names received into a drawing, and pull out the appropriate number of names. One of the woman bowlers had submitted the name of her son at the tournament. She, along with several of her league members asked about the drawing for the kits. Sue told them that it was going to be real close, however she believed that we were going to be able to purchase four kits, and since there were four names submitted, there would be no need to hold the drawing. The league members told Sue that if they came up a little short, they would conduct 50/50 drawing on their league night and they make sure there was enough for the fourth kit. The mother of the service member came up to Sue and gave her a hug and said “thank you” to the league for hosting this event! An extra 50/50 drawing was not needed.
Today, are at 13 kits…and counting.
Minneapolis USBC, Butch Kesller & Ken Koch
When you’re looking for the reason behind the recent success of the BVL campaign in the Minneapolis area, don’t bother looking any further than two dynamos who are the drive behind the wheel — Butch Kessler and Ken Koch. Thanks to Butch and Ken, who gave up many evenings to get out into the centers to promote BVL, the Minneapolis USBC earned the honor of top local association supporting BVL national for the last several years – reaching an annual donation of $20,000! After they actively solicited and received an assortment of door prizes from area retailers, Butch and Ken hit the road to conduct raffles and distribute door prizes. Although Minneapolis did have a BVL week in February, the beat the BVL drum all year long, with a kick off drive the week of Veterans Day. Among their activities? A pancake breakfast, and a dance!
Minneapolis USBC, Master Sergeant Jerry Charles (Ret.)
and Sergeant First Class Susan Reger
Sometimes, BVL volunteers aren’t the league leaders or association staff or bowling center employees – sometimes help comes from other sources… And in the case of the Minnesota BVL effort, it also came from a couple of volunteers who share a unique understanding of what it means to support America’s service men and women.
Master Sergeant Jerry Charles and Sergeant First Class Susan Reger have come out to lend a hand with Minneapolis’ Monday night leagues and their BVL night. As part of that effort, they accumulated some 200 items for their auction, and consequently helped the Minneapolis USBC earn $1,300.00 in just one night from only 16 teams!
Thanks to Jerry and Susan, they helped propel the Minneapolis USBC to their position as the most successful local association fundraiser for BVL.
Cathedral Prep and McDowell High School, JROTC Cadets
In Erie, Pennsylvania, BVL volunteers know two things:
1.) If an idea works, keep using it.
2.) Bright ideas really shine when they work.
It started out almost three ago when BVL campaign coordinator Larry Carlson had an idea: utilize area Junior ROTC cadets to help in the BVL fund-raising campaign. After all, these young men and women understand what service to our country is all about, and their enthusiasm for the concept might just penetrate the crowd.
Larry contacted Richard Sambuchino, the JROTC commander at his high school alma mater, Cathedral Prep. He immediately agreed to help. The team was formed. Larry went to each of the centers in his area and gave a short speech about BVL. Then, the cadets fanned out across the lanes to collect contributions. They raised more than $1,500.
So, the idea worked.
This year, Larry added some more shine. This season, Larry called on Charles Merriott, Col. USAF (Ret.) who works with the JROTC cadets atMcDowellHigh SchoolinErie. They added some more cadets to their effort. This year, Larry’s goal was to collect $2,000. They met and exceeded their goal.
Les Dames de 700 Bowling Club, Inc.
BVL is proud to have a number of longtime supporters, but one very special group is the Les Dames de Club. The club has supported BVL with annual contributions for more than thirty years!
In 2006, the Les Dames purchased the first of seven bowling kits sent to various overseas camps and to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. The latest kit purchased is the first to be sent to a member’s son who is currently stationed in Afghanistan.
Mary Anna Dalske, Les Dames Executive Director, confirms their belief in BVL, “We look forward to continuing our backing of BVL and its endeavors to serve the wounded and disabled service men and women of this country.”
Joining the National Les Dames de 700 Bowling Club in supporting BVL this year are dozens of 500, 600 and 700 clubs from around the country.