Bowl for Jason’s Friends Celebrates 25 Years of Assisting Wyoming Families
It started with one little boy and his battle against cancer.
Jason was eight years old when he was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor. Immediately, he and his parents flew to Denver, followed by New York, to find out how to treat him.
After surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and various other forms of therapy, the Eades family thought that their little boy had beaten cancer. In April of 1995, an MRI revealed that the tumor was gone. But a few months later, his symptoms returned. It was discovered that the tumor was back and was even larger.
In November of that year, Jason passed away. But his story, really, was just getting started.
Following Jason's death, his parents and a few of their friends created an organization to both honor Jason and to help kiddos that were in similar situations.
Thus, the Jason's Friends Foundation was born.
“When a child dies, it’s huge,” said Lisa Eades, Jason's mother and the founder of the Foundation. “There is so much pain. Nothing functions the same.”
And that's what Lisa and Rocky were trying to do - function. They were trying to find a way to get through life without their little boy. The best way they could do that, was to create something bigger than them; something bigger than him. That was the Jason's Friends Foundation.
According to a release from the organization, "Jason’s Friends Foundation is a nonprofit organization that steps in to offer a helping hand when a Wyoming child is diagnosed with cancer or a brain or spinal cord tumor. By providing financial assistance for things like travel expenses (fuel, lodging, airfare, meals) and everyday living expenses (house and rent payments, car payments, phone bills, utility bills, etc.), Jason’s Friends Foundation eases the financial burden on Wyoming families so that they can focus on what is most important — their children."
The biggest event of the year for the Foundation, is the Bowl for Jason's Friends event - an afternoon of bowling and raising money to help Wyoming families - and it's happening on Saturday, March 4.
"For Wyoming children battling cancer and the families who stand by their side, one special day at a bowling alley will have a tremendous impact," the release stated. "Saturday, March 4 marks the 25th Annual Bowl for Jason’s Friends fundraiser. With just a few weeks left before the big event, Jason’s Friends Foundation urges members of the community to gather their friends, family, coworkers, church members and civic groups to collect donations and come out in support of their fellow Wyomingites."
The way the event works is that teams of five will bowl for one hour. Each individual bowler is asked to collect at least $100 in donations.
"Funds raised at the event will provide financial assistance for families in the community and throughout Wyoming whose children are suffering from life-threatening childhood cancers and brain or spinal cord tumors," the release said.
This year, however, it's a little extra special.
"Jason’s Friends is excited to announce plans to make the 25th Annual Bowl for Jason's Friends in Casper an even bigger celebration," the release stated. "The top three individuals from each session who collect the highest amount of donations will be invited back to El Mark-O Lanes for the 'Final Bowl Down.' The Final Bowl Down will take place at 9pm, followed by the After Party with live music from local musician, Bret Andrew. The silent auction will remain open until 10pm."
The release noted that the 'Final Bowl Down' is designed for bowlers of any age or skill level. Friends, donors, teammates and more are encouraged to cheer on the bowlers.
"In honor of the foundation’s 25th anniversary, there will be $2,500 in cash prizes for the winners," the release said. "Anyone who attends the After Party has a chance to win money as well. Jason’s Friends hopes to have a large turnout for this 25th anniversary celebration."
The Bowl Down, as well as the after party, are sponsored by Blueprint Energy Partners and Bionic Energy.
“The day is filled with contests, giveaways, free food and drinks, prizes and fun,” Eades said. “Free T-shirts will be awarded to each bowler gathering $100 or more in donations, with special adult and youth prize packages for the most donations collected. Bowlers of all skill levels are encouraged to participate, including league bowlers, novices and everyone in between. Last year, almost 1,000 bowlers participated in the event. This year, we are looking for strong support from the community and state to make this another successful fundraiser.”
And if the last 25 years have proven anything, it's that the community can and will turn out. For 25 years, the Jason's Friends Foundation have proven themselves as exactly that - friends. And the community has responded in kind.
"Bowl for Jason’s Friends is the organization’s primary fundraiser for the year," the release said. "The Foundation is currently helping nearly 155 Wyoming families and has provided over $7 million dollars of financial assistance since its founding. Last year, the Bowl for Jason’s Friends fundraiser raised more than $360,000 and this year, the foundation hopes to surpass that number as financial needs continue to increase."
Additionally, Jason's Friends will be hosting a smaller version of Bowl for Jason's Friends in Gillette, Wyoming on Saturday, March 4 from 1:30 PM to 5:30 PM. This event will be held at Camelanes Bowling Center.
For more information on this event, or on the Jason's Friends Foundation as a whole, visit the Jason's Friends Foundation website or call 307-235-3421.