Kicking cancer to the gutter

The Dude Hates Can­cer fun­draiser and an­nu­al bowl­ing tour­na­ment - based on the film, "The Big Le­bow­ski," of course - hopes to raise $100,000 this year to be­ne­fit leuk­emia and lymph­oma re­search. Bowl­ers will hit the lanes Sat­urday in North­ern Liber­ties.

If you’ve nev­er seen the Co­hen broth­ers’ 1998 cult clas­sic, “The Big Le­bow­ski,” now’s your chance, man.

Come Sat­urday, North­ern Liber­ties’ North Bowl, at 909 N. 2nd St., will come alive with the par­lance, cos­tumes and bowl­ing en­thu­si­asm of the flick — it fea­tures Jef­frey “The Dude” Le­bow­ski, a White Rus­si­an-swill­ing, sweat­pants-wear­ing slack­er and his bowl­ing bud­dies.

North Bowl’s lanes cer­tainly won’t be taken over by slack­ers, though. It will be packed with par­ti­cipants of “The Dude Hates Can­cer” bowl­ing tour­na­ment and fun­draiser. TDHC be­ne­fits the East­ern Pennsylvania chapter of the Leuk­emia & Lymph­oma So­ci­ety (LLS).

The grand fi­nale to this year’s cam­paign ef­forts will kick off at the bowl­ing al­ley at 11:30 a.m. Sat­urday, and is ex­pec­ted to go to 8:30 p.m.

The or­gan­iz­a­tion began after Buf­falo, N.Y. man Tim Max­well’s fath­er was dia­gnosed with a form of leuk­emia.

A fan of the film, Max­well began to or­gan­ize the first an­nu­al bowl­ing tour­na­ment in 2006 as a unique way to sup­port in­di­vidu­als dia­gnosed with blood can­cers. While do­ing so, his moth­er was dia­gnosed with an­oth­er form of blood can­cer, Mul­tiple My­el­oma.

“That really re­in­forced his de­sire to do something,” said TDHC Phil­adelphia Chair Helen Chung. “He went back every year, and it grew and grew.”

This year, TDHC hopes to raise its “ma­gic num­ber,” $100,000. Sat­urday’s event will per­haps be es­pe­cially sig­ni­fic­ant to Max­well, as his moth­er just re­cently passed away.

TDHC be­came an of­fi­cial LLS char­ity event in 2009, when it raised over $27,300. Its earn­ings only in­creased in the fol­low­ing years; last year it raised $83,000, des­pite the tour­na­ment’s oc­cur­rence in the midst of Hur­ricane Irene.

This year, the tour­na­ment has 39 team spots, al­most 30 of which are filled. Teams can re­gister up to the day of the tour­na­ment.

The cost is $180 for a team of six to 10 people, which in­cludes three hours of bowl­ing, shoe rent­al, a tee shirt, a com­pli­ment­ary tater tot bar at the event —which, Chung said, gets people very ex­cited— and en­trance in­to the after party at Johnny Brenda’s, at 1201 Frank­ford Ave.

Spec­tat­ors are wel­come and can also at­tend the Johnny Brenda’s after party for $10. Loc­als bands Or­bit to Leslie, Cheers Ele­phant and Swift Tech­nique will per­form at the bar be­gin­ning at 9:15 p.m.

With team names like “Bowl Move­ments,” “I Can’t Be­lieve It’s Not Gut­ter,” and “The Bowl­ing Stones,” the tour­na­ment is sure to fea­ture a lineup of fun-lov­ing folks. Teams from Yards Brew­ing Com­pany, Mac’s Tav­ern and Soy Caf&ea­cute; are also par­ti­cip­at­ing.

“It’s a very laid-back event,” Chung said. “I think it ap­peals to all kinds of people. People who are really ser­i­ous about bowl­ing, they’ll be in­ter­ested for that reas­on, [so will] people who want to give back be­cause they’re con­nec­ted to the cause.”

Caitlin Crowe, the cam­paign’s LLS li­ais­on, agreed.

“It’s is very much a young pro­fes­sion­al’s kind of event, but it kind of goes across the board; [par­ti­cipants are] doc­tors, law­yers, ac­count­ants,” Crowe said.

Chung said the fun­drais­ing as­pect of the event is hugely im­port­ant. Prizes are awar­ded for the highest-earn­ing team and in­di­vidu­al. The ma­jor fun­drais­ing prize this year, Chung said, is “The Big Booze Prize,” fea­tur­ing $370 worth of donated al­co­hol — White Rus­si­an in­gredi­ents in­cluded, hope­fully.

Oth­er prizes in­clude the coveted “Philly Res­taur­ant Pass” raffle prize, a pack­age of 26 gift cer­ti­fic­ates to res­taur­ants around the city val­ued at $1,700.

“It’s com­pletely dif­fer­ent from any of our oth­er events,” Crowe said of TDHC. “Our headquar­ters is look­ing at this cam­paign as the next of­fi­cial na­tion­al cam­paign.”

With 61 chapters na­tion­ally in­clud­ing Canada, TDHC raises funds crit­ic­al to leuk­emia and lymph­oma re­search.

In fact, Uni­versity of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Carl June and his re­search team re­cently made a huge break­through in T-cell lymph­oma re­search; in clin­ic­al tri­als, one sub­ject ex­per­i­enced com­plete re­mis­sion, and two oth­ers ex­per­i­enced 80 per­cent re­mis­sion.

“It was a huge break­through na­tion­ally and world­wide,” Crowe said. “All their re­search is be­ing fun­ded through The Dude Hates Can­cer dol­lars. As far as how im­port­ant this event is to LLS, it’s right up there with our na­tion­al cam­paigns.”

And how could it not be? The ded­ic­a­tion of its or­gan­izers and par­ti­cipants is ob­vi­ous.

After all, con­sider the un­of­fi­cial tagline of the cam­paign:

“This can­cer will not stand, man.”

For more in­form­a­tion and to sign up a team, vis­it ht­tp://philly.thedude­hates­can­

Man­aging Ed­it­or Mi­kala Jam­is­on can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at mjam­is­

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