The U-Neek Friends Bowling League is raising funds to make sure that all of the participants can play for free.
The bowling league is composed of bowlers who, to some degree, have a mental or physical disability. Crystal Carper decided to create the bowling league so people with disabilities could continue to bowl after the local chapter of the Special Olympics shut down 11 years ago.
“The league gives community members awareness of people with special needs,” Carper said. “I feel much better about myself because I know the bowlers are there to have fun.”
Members of the league pay $9 every week to participate at Holiday Bowl near Mill Creek. However, if a member is unable to pay, the league does not turn them away.
“Some community members sponsor participants in the league if they’re not able to pay the weekly rate,” Carper said. “However, it is our goal to make sure that no members have to pay.”
The weekly bowling rate is not the only expense of the league. U-Neek hosts an awards banquet at the end of the season to congratulate every participant. The cost of the banquet, team shirts and additional equipment, brings the bowling season costs just under $5,000.
In recent months, Steve Rusk, a volunteer for the league, started a GoFundMe page for the league in an attempt to raise these funds.
“Our goal is to make sure that nobody has to pay.” Rusk stated. “In addition to this, we would like to buy additional equipment fitted to our participants’ needs.”
Since beginning the league with four teams and 12 members, it has since expanded to 12 teams and 36 members.
The season typically runs from mid-July to Thanksgiving, but due to COVID-19, the season started in September and will run to right before Christmas.
A parent of one of the bowlers, Katrina Hollobaugh, thinks that the league has helped her son, Matthew, tremendously.
“Bowling here really helps Matthew with his motor skills,” Hollobaugh said. “This is one of the only activities that Matthew can really do. He really loves to bowl in the league and spend time with the other members.”
To donate to the league, they can send a check made out to U-Neek Friends and mailed to Holiday Bowl, 11862 William Penn Highway, Huntingdon, PA 16652.
Kylie can be reached at email@example.com.