Labor raises $29,427 for MDA without bowling a single ball

For 13 years running, the Northwest Oregon Labor Council (NOLC) has held a Sunday afternoon bowling tournament to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

For the past six years that fundraiser has been held at AMF Rockwood Lanes in Southeast Portland. It was scheduled there again this year, but three days before the event - on Friday, April 5 - NOLC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Judy O'Connor received a phone call that she said "sickened her stomach."

Patti Helzer of MDA called to tell her that Rockwood Lanes had double-booked and there was no room for the union members to bowl. Never mind that all 30 lanes had been reserved by MDA nearly a year in advance, and that pledge packets for participants had gone out in January.

Helzer learned of the snafu only after she called the bowling alley to make arrangements to set up tables for auction items at the labor event. "This is the first time this has happened to me in my 20 years here," she said.

Rockwood Lanes had booked a Youth League bowling tournament for Sunday, April 7. Every lane would be filled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. O'Connor and Jim Cook, former president of Letter Carriers Branch 82 and the labor council's coordinator for the MDA bowl-a-thon, were furious.

Both O'Connor and Cook were at an AFL-CIO meeting when word of the scheduling conflict came. Pleas by the labor council and MDA to make room for them went unheeded). "They said there was nothing they could do," said O'Connor.

Most of the pledge packets had been turned in, lane sponsorships had been sold, and auction items were purchased and ready to go to the highest bidder. But now there was nowhere to go. After much deliberation (and several phone calls), O'Connor, Cook and the MDA had only one choice, to proceed with the event - sans the bowling.

So, the pledges and prizes and fellowship that is all part of the event was moved to a nearby pizza parlor (pizza and beverages compliments of Rockwood Lanes).

And in the end, labor collected $29,427.96 for MDA, bringing their 13-year total to more than $100,000. Robert Petroff, directing business representative of Machinists District Lodge 24, was the top fundraiser, with $4,494, and Fire Fighters Local 43 was the top union contributor, with $8,385.42. Other top individual fundraisers were Don Ming of Operating Engineers Local 701 with $2,995; Sharon Mask of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555; and Deborah Johnson of IAM District Lodge 24 with $1,120. Cook was happy not to receive the low-game bowling trophy, but he doubts the group will ever return to Rockwood Lanes.

Is there another bowling alley in the Portland metro area interested in holding the event? If so, NOLC and MDA would certainly like to hear from them.

April 19, 2002 issue

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