Kyle Bryant put it best when he spoke to the crowd: “I can’t believe this, we’re having a freaking party in a candlepin bowling alley!” And what a party it ended up being.
During the spring of 2009, I attended a fundraiser for a friend of mine from high school. The two of us graduated from Winthrop High in 1996; but the real story starts further back when we were ten years old on the same Little League team. Richard “Richie” Currier was in the on deck circle trying to time his swing with the pitcher on the hill. As he took his swing, his bat pinwheeled out of his hands and SMASHED the windshield of my father’s brand new 1988 Chevy Caprice Classic. Our Little League team was notorious that season, I think we broke four windshields. Oh yeah, he met his wife on the team too – talk about Little League Sweethearts…
The charity event was created to raise awareness for Friedreich’s Ataxia. It is a debilitating disease that attacks the nervous system and causes gait and speech issues similar to that of muscular dystrophy. It turns out that Richie was diagnosed with FA while he was in college. After that initial fundraiser was over, I tried to think, how can I help and what can I do? That’s where the story really begins to take shape.
The fall of 2009 rolled around, and I had an idea for a bowl-a-thon. With the help of the Candlepin Pro Series, we designed a night to bowl with the pros. Several pros showed up (Mike MacIntosh, Craig Holbrook, Jeff Surette just to name a few), and our fundraiser was born. The overall turn out was better than we expected. Little did we know what this fundraiser was going to turn into after the initial event.
Fast forward to 2014. It’s the five year mark for the bowl-a-thon, and it’s going strong. And by strong, I mean jammed packed from the second we open the door until the manager has to throw us out at the end of the night. This night would be not be possible for the effort of the employees of Candlewood in North Reading.
Look at this place! When was the last time you saw a candlepin bowling alley this full other than The Worlds? Guests even had to wait for lanes to bowl. The FA Project has the perfect formula for an event – fun, food, raffles, and an amazing DJ. I had no idea the impact this event was going to have when it came to creating it among some friends in Winthrop, and the candlepin bowling community.
Of course the goal is to beat the disease – but that’s not what this event is about. It’s about what one Suffolk University student coined in an article – hope. Ethan Hartley a senior and has an insatiable appetite for a feel good story as well as my wife’s left overs. He was able to pay us a visit and cover the event and help us get the word out to others. You can read Ethan’s amazing article via this direct link here, or visit the main blog The Suffolk Voice. I’ve never been so proud to say I know someone, but damn Ethan, I’m PROUD of you.
Ethan met Richie and Kyle for the first time last Saturday evening. Let me tell you, until now he’s been cheated because he hasn’t known them for as long as I have. When you hear Richie and Kyle speak, you don’t hear words of sorrow, or words of anger, or even words of acceptance. You hear words of determination, spirit, and sheer will that can be summed up into one word I’m going to use – heart. To them, every day is a good day. Every day is another day to overcome something that may be mundane to us, but is a challenge to them. Kyle does a great job reminding us that we take the mundane for granted. Kyle has also taught me, and the rest of the FA Project, you can accomplish anything if the desire is there. So what does Kyle do to prove that? He up and rides his bike from San Diego, CA to Annapolis, MD. You think that’s impressive? It would be, except he made the trip with the rest of his team in eight days. EIGHT days. Let that sink in for a second. Kyle just went from being impressive to epic. I look forward to hanging out with him every single year. He’s a hero for the community of people afflicted with FA.
Being a part of something bigger is truly awesome. I know I can’t find a cure, but I can help. The FA Project uses the money that was raised (over $10,000 two years in a row – woo!) to help people afflicted with FA. It can be as simple as cab ride to a doctor’s appointment. It can also be as extensive as building a ramp for your home because you’re in a wheel chair. No matter what, the one thing we try to achieve is to let people know they aren’t alone. We’re standing there right behind them, and it’s great.
This event would not have been made possible without the help of our friends and family as well. If not for my wife Anna, who bakes more than the Pillsbury Dough Boy, The Keebler Elves, AND The Sunshine Baker man combined, a major part of event would be missing. To the right, you can see a cross-section of Anna’s most famous “slutty brownies” (we’re all adults here). Those are her signature dessert with a layer of chocolate chip cookie dough on the bottom, a layer of Oreos in the middle and brownie batter on top.
Moving from a boundless energy in the kitchen to boundless energy in life; Richie’s wife Maria is tireless. Watching her support Richie through all of this and during the event is like pure magic. It’s never ending. The personality she brings to the event along with her passion can’t be beat.
You can’t count out Evan, James, and Rami either. Their legwork in the background makes it so we have a real team and that we are always ready come April every year. We would all have a more difficult time without them.
Candlewood Bowling Alley, The Candlepin Pro Series, Kelly’s Roast Beef, DJ Scott Martelucci, Photo Fun Box, the Lane Sponsors… The list goes on and on and gets bigger and better every year. If you’ve been here before, we can’t wait to see you again next year. If you’ve never been, man you’ve gotta come out. Kyle, Richie, all of us; we truly appreciate it and you will too.
Oh, and on a side note… We’re back!