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 Café 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.thedudehatescancer.com.
Managing Editor Mikala Jamison can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.