When serious bowlers can come together for a shot at some decent prize money, and families and kids can participate, too, you know you’ve created the perfect atmosphere for a bowling fundraiser to top all others. This is what the annual Shamrock Shootout does for Hannah’s Hope—a local non-profit that provides developmental equipment to kids with special needs and connects families by making life and communities more accessible.
The 7th Annual Shamrock Shootout bowling tournament and family fun day packed more than 200 bowlers into Inman’s Bowling & Recreation Center this month for a 9-pin, no tap charity tournament, and an afternoon of family fun bowling for the less serious rollers. About half the bowlers competed in the tourney, and the other half were there for fun bowling.
Perhaps one of the most endearing aspects of the event is that many of the participants have known each other for years—decades, even.
“I’ve known Mike [Martinez] since we were kids. We grew up on the same street and played together. We’ve been friends for almost 30 years, and now our kids and wives are friends. We are all involved in this together, to support each other, and to support a great cause,” said Joe Hall, tournament director for the Shamrock Shootout and board member for Hannah’s Hope.
The charity’s namesake is Hannah Martinez, a vibrant, blue-eyed little girl (daughter of Mike and Mary) who lived through severe developmental delays caused by a prenatal stroke until she passed away in 2012. After her passing, the family started Hannah’s Hope, with a vision of helping all kids with special needs reach their full potential.
Cassie Reedy, a speech therapist who cared for Hannah, said she wanted to stay connected with the family even after Hannah was no longer her patient, so she has participated in the bowling tourney for the past four or five years.
“It has turned into a big family affair for us. I start recruiting for the bowling event right after the holidays. This year, I think I recruited about 50 people and had to reserve 10 lanes for us,” Reedy said. “I volunteer for this because I believe in the cause, and I’ve been able to see the positive effect that Hannah’s Hope has had on children in our community.”
Larry Achten, this year’s tournament winner, averages 230 and has bowled in national and state events. He’s also the Chesterton High School bowling team coach. While he loves the 10-place payout of the tournament (about $1,200 in prize money was available), he says the real reward is seeing all the families come together for a great cause.
“What Hannah’s Hope does is just incredible. They do a great job of providing an event that throws everyone into the mix,” he said. The high-schooler bowling next to him won second place, and Achten said other side games, like raffles and strike shot games, keep the event interesting for everyone.
“The best part, though, is that it’s something I get to do with my son,” Achten said. He knows that, at 17, teens aren’t willing to do a whole lot to spend time with their parents.
Reedy’s 9-year-old daughter Olivia volunteers at the event, and her 7-year-old daughter Charlee is a volunteer-in-training. “My husband and I think it’s really important to involve our children in community activities and giving back at an early age. This event is a great cause and an easy group to work with because they are very inclusive, so they give children the jobs they like.”
Hall’s 7-year-old daughter is best friends with Martinez’ younger daughter, and volunteers for the event, too.
“It’s definitely very family oriented, and we’ll do anything we can to keep it that way.”
Hall said the group hasn’t been able to tally a total yet from this year’s event, but he predicts it’s more than the $8,000 they raised last year.
“Our goal is $10,000, so we’ll see how close we have come.”
For more information about Hannah’s Hope, or to make a donation to push them closer to their goal for the event, visit them online at https://hannahshope.org/.