If Bowling Against Bullying continues growing like it has, founder and organizer Shaun Mudd knows he’ll have to figure out a plan to accommodate all the kids who want to participate.
“Somebody said, ‘What do you do when it gets too big?’ I said I don’t know. Spread it out and have it in different towns all over the place? I didn’t think it would even get this big,” he said.
This is the fifth year for Bowling Against Bullying, which started in 2017. The free event for children was not held in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Bowling Against Bullying is scheduled for noon to 3 p.m. Aug. 6 at The Bowling Alley, 1535 N. Detroit St., Warsaw. An extra hour was added to the event because some people were unable to bowl last year, Mudd said.
“This year, I signed with Lisa Harman with Live Well Kosciusko. She is actually my fiscal sponsor and that allows me to use her 501(c)3 benefits. So that has helped a lot. I think it’s helped getting more corporate sponsorships, so I’ve been able to get a lot of corporate partnerships,” Mudd said.
Polk Equipment was the first corporate sponsor to jump on board for this year’s event. They were joined by Wildman Business Group, Silveus Insurance and B & K out of Mentone. Jason Ellis with Edward Jones returned for a second year as a corporate sponsor, as did Lake City Bank. Patton Hall Realty Group donated a Yeti cooler in 2021 and became a corporate sponsor this year.
Lowe’s is providing a fire pit with a swing-over grate for grilling, along with a couple of adirondack chairs. Last year, Lowe’s provided a smoker for the anti-bullying event.
Loose Moose donated a cooler, T-shirts and cups for this year’s event.
“It’s been good,” Mudd said.
Besides the 501(c)3 designation, new this year is that there will be a speaker. Connie Strean, with Stop Child Abuse & Neglect (SCAN), will give a presentation on bullying. Mudd said he’s always wanted to have a speaker at the event.
More information on SCAN can be found online at https://www.scanfw.org/.
During the 2021 event, Mudd said they gave away 13 bicycles. For the 2022 event, he said they’ve cut down on the number of bicycles being given away to around eight. The bicycles were donated.
“This year, we’re doing getaway vacation packages. We will be doing an (silent) auction. It’s the first time we’ve done that. We’re going to try it out and see how well it goes. I’ve already had a lot of interest in it. One is with the Smoky Mountains getaway, and the other one is with the Ozarks,” Mudd said.
A company is providing them. If they don’t sell, Mudd said he doesn’t pay anything. If they do sell, anything above the reserve price goes to Bowling Against Bullying. He said he’ll probably also do a call-in if anyone wants to call in and bid on the getaway packages.
As part of the 501(c)3 requirements, Mudd said he had to form a board of directors. They are Paul Nowak, Holly Hummitch and Joanna Eccles. “They’ve been involved with it since the beginning,” Mudd said. Hummitch puts the flyer together every year.
Bowling Against Bullying started out as a one-time thing.
“We had some youth suicides in the county due to bullying, and I came across a post on Facebook where somebody’s son was being bullying because he has autism. So, I reached out to her and I organized a lunch to have lunch with him. We had a bunch of people that were in on it. It was supposed to be on a Monday,” Mudd said.
That Sunday, the mom received a message from the school board saying that their schools don’t do open lunches, so the lunch got shut down.
“So, I still wanted to do something with him, and I asked her, ‘Hey, do you mind if I take him bowling?’ She said yes and he likes bowling so that would be cool. And then, that turned basically into the first event,” Mudd said.
Friends paid for the lanes and food and donated money so Mudd could pay for some prizes.
“It was supposed to be a one-time thing. A lady came up to me and gave me like $40 and said, ‘Here’s for next year.’ I took it and was like, ‘Dang, now I have to have it next year,’” he recalled. “That’s basically how it started.”
Everything is free for the children, including the pizza and soda pop.
To make a tax-deductible donation to the cause, visit https://donorbox.org/bowling-against-bullying. All donations go toward the annual event and free prizes for the kids.
“Last year, my wife goes, ‘What happens if you can’t buy a toy for every kid?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know. I’ve never thought about that. Hopefully, I’ll never have to get to that point,’” Mudd said.
To contact Bowling Against Bullying, email email@example.com. They also have a Facebook page.