Bowling is a great relaxing past time, but it can also be used to great affect as a fundraiser.
Those at Sunrise Bowling Alley Sunday afternoon weren't looking to bowl a perfect game, but instead to strike back for the Central Ohio Chapter of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America during their sixth annual Strike Out Crohn's and Colitis Bowl-A-Thon.
"It's the best turnout we've had," said event chairman Tony Murphy. "Unfortunately the diseases are more recognized because more are being diagnosed with them."
Murphy said they had 17 teams and projected to pull in more than $6,000 in pledges and donations.
He was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2005. He works as a captain for the Rural Metro Port Columbus Fire Department and many of the firefighters who work under him turned out to bowl for the event.
"We wanted to bring as many guys as we could get out here to show support. He has the illness and I think it's nice to see the guys you work with say 'we're here for you brother,'" said firefighter Rob Kosch.
Most teams were comprised of family and friends who had someone dear to them afflicted with one of the diseases.
"This is a wonderful idea to let the community know more about (the diseases). A lot of people, like me, didn't know they had a foundation," said Kathy Gibbs of Zanesville.
This was her family's first year at the bowl-a-thon, as Kathy's son Justin, 17, was diagnosed about a year ago with ulcerative colitis. He's had Gerd 2 since he was an infant, an upper bowel disease.
"He has his good days and bad days. You wouldn't know there was anything wrong with him most of the time," she said.
"It makes me feel real special. It reminds me that it is a big deal, but you get over it and the fact you have it," said Justin.
More than 60,000 Ohio residents are afflicted with Crohn's or ulcerative colitis, including about 10,000 children. They are similar diseases that affect the intestines, bowels, colon and digestive track. There is no known cure for Crohn's and its causes remain a mystery, although genetics and environment seem to play a part, according to experts.
"They are inflammatory diseases of the intestine that leads to various symptoms like diarrhea and pain," said Dr. Andrew Chernick, a local gastroenterologist whose son Alex, 17, has Crohn's.
The disease can be treated with drugs and surgery, but pain will always linger. Mortality rates might be low, but so can the quality of life for someone with the diseases.
"Through organizations like the CCFA we have better, more effective treatments and hopefully one day a cure," said Dr. Chernick.
The biggest representation at the event was by the "Crohn Rangers," which had 17 members on five teams. The group is the family and friends of Maura Hoff. Her brother Steven designed the bright yellow shirts the group wears, which many accent with bandanas and sheriff badges.
Hoff lives in Indianapolis, Ind., with her husband Ryan, but returns to her hometown every year for the event. She was diagnosed with Crohn's in 2006.
"Last year was rough, but '09 should be a lot better," she said.
Hoff has just started to take a new drug called Remicade. While that is physically making her feel better, the presence of her loved ones is spiritually giving her the strength and courage to fight on.
"The support of friends and family is exactly what you need to get through this, especially on Valentine's Day weekend. There's a lot of love here," she said.
HAYHURST, L. Crohn's and colitis gets bowled over. Retrieved February 20, 2009, from