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Annual Ken Gage Memorial bowling tournament underway in Labrador West

Big Brothers and Big Sisters Cape Breton’s popular Bowl for Kids event returns to the Sydney area for the first time in nearly a decade. On March 29, the charity will stage a ’50s sock hop-themed bowling fundraiser from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., with teams of four or five people collecting pledges in exchange for a fun afternoon of free bowling, cash prizes and draws. Any individuals or businesses that want to take part can call Big Brothers Big Sisters at 902-564-5437 to book their team and get pledge sheets. STOCK IMAGE
Last year’s event raised over $12,000, mainly from registration fees, with the money helping out several families, said Labrador West Association for Community Living president Cindy Humphries. - 123RF Stock Photo

The sounds of pins being knocked over is vibrating inside the Wabush Rec Centre from April 26 to May 10 as it hosts the 34th annual Ken Gage Memorial Bowling Tournament.

The event is a major fundraiser for the Labrador West Association for Community Living, which supports individuals with intellectual disabilities.  All money raised stays in the local community.

Last year’s event raised over $12,000, mainly from registration fees, with the money helping out several families, said association president Cindy Humphries. 

She said the funds allowed clients and their families to receive much-needed items to make their lives easier.  Some of the items included car seats, commodes, and wheelchairs, with Humphries noting that a wheelchair would cost up to $5,000.

“These are very expensive items, and some people don’t have insurance, so this helps with the cost,” she said.

A total of 44 teams of four have signed up for the tournament, with each team getting the chance to play three games before qualifying for the playoffs.  The tournament wraps up with a dance, and prizes donated by local businesses will be handed out.

Numerous volunteers have been busy since late January to ensure this year’s event goes off without a hitch. They’ve been busy hitting up businesses for donations, renting the hall for the dance, and, during the tournament, will help out by keeping score, serving drinks and much more.

While the tournament remains an important date on the calendar for avid bowlers, Humphries said there was a time when the event attracted as many as 100 teams. 

“Times change and people lose interest,” she said. “It’s time for our generation to take over, but it doesn’t seem like our generation is interested.”

Even so, there are many regular participants who are quite eager to lace up and hit the alley. 

“It’s a night out, you meet different people because you play against different teams.  And the money we raise is going to a good cause and it all remains in the community.”

Who is Ken Gage?

The bowling tournament is named in honour of Ken Gage, who was a long-time board member of the Labrador West Association for Community Living until he passed away in the early 2000s. 

Tony Lawrence, a volunteer with the tournament and a former president of the association, said Gage was a dedicated volunteer who filled various roles on the board including president and treasurer. And Gage’s dedication extended to the annual tournament, even though he wasn’t an avid bowler himself.

“This bowling tournament was his baby,” Lawrence said.

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