Committee members for the Strike Out Breast Cancer tourney include, left to right, Dianne Hjellming, Jackie Deters, Lynn Reburn, Joni Voshart and Ruth Ann St. Mary.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->
Committee members for the Strike Out Breast Cancer tourney include, left to right, Dianne Hjellming, Jackie Deters, Lynn Reburn, Joni Voshart and Ruth Ann St. Mary.

In 2008, Lynn Reburn read some troubling statistics - in the United States about one in every eight women will develop breast cancer. As an avid bowler, the numbers hit home for Lynn.

"A bowling team consists of five bowlers, and they can have three subs equaling eight on a team," she noted recently. "It got me thinking that if the statistics are right, someone on a team has a good chance of getting breast cancer."

That's when the idea to pair her favorite sport with a fund-raising event to fight the disease took hold.

"I don't know of any other activity where so many women get together on a weekly basis, and it seemed like a worthwhile cause for us to get involved in." Reburn noted.

"After all, our weekly 'hen' parties are really just great support group meetings anyway. I brought my idea to a Caledonia Women's Bowling Association (CWBA) meeting, and the response was 'Absolutely, it sounds like a good idea.'"

Held at Starlite Bowling Center in Caledonia, the initial (2008) "Strike Out Breast Cancer to Spare a Pair" tourney drew 120 bowlers and raised $2,431, more than double the event's goal.

Still sponsored by the CWBA, it has since averaged 130 bowlers (league and beginners, men and women) and $3,899 in fund raising each year.

Current committee members include Reburn, Jackie Deters, Ruth Ann St. Mary, Lori Wilhelmson, Sue Meyer, Joni Voshart, Dianne & Bob Hjellming, Gary & Sandy Klinski, Brian & Dawn Dunbar and Lindsey & Samantha Meyer.

This year, the tournament will be held on Saturday, Oct. 20. There will be three shifts of bowlers at 12, 3 and 6 p.m. The cost to bowl (ages 16 and over) is $20.

Whether bowling or not, anyone can come to cheer on the competitors, take part in the raffles and learn more about fighting the disease. Sign-up sheets for bowlers are available at Starlite Lanes.

Each year, Mayo Health Care has set up an educational display on breast cancer at the event, Reburn said. "It's very informative. They have someone there to answer questions."

"Most of us have known someone who has had breast cancer," St. Mary said. "My sister died of breast cancer. We want to promote awareness about this disease."

"It's not just about women," Dianne Hjellming added. "Men are affected as well. The priest I grew up with had breast cancer. He survived, but we know of other men in our area that didn't."

"The first year we attended, we just bowled. But my husband and I had so much fun with it that we decided to join the committee and help promote the event. The response from the community has been just fantastic.

"Everybody is enthusiastic about it, and they are enthusiastic to learn that we're keeping the money that we raise here in the community for local efforts."

"The statewide bowling association has thousands of members, but the Caledonia chapter has raised more money (to combat breast cancer) than any of the other chapters in the state. Last year, it was more than half of the total," Reburn said.

"We just have a great time," Voshart said. "It's great to see the bowlers have fun. We make sure that every bowler gets a door prize."

Competitors can bowl in memory of a loved one who has been lost to cancer or in honor of someone who is fighting any cancer. Those names are announced at the beginning of each shift, and the bowler is presented with a pink carnation.

"Even non-bowlers, those who aren't on a league come, and they just have a blast," Deters said.

"There are four divisions - men's bowler/ non-bowler, women's bowler/ non-bowler. We have set it up as an 8-pin no-tap tournament, so if you get an eight or better on your first ball it's considered a strike."

Reburn said that winners in each division receive special trophies - hand-painted bowling pins crafted by Wilhelmson. Each is pink and decorated to look like the event mascot, a girl in a bikini.

"This year our committee decided we wanted to help family, friends and neighbors in our own community," Voshart said.

"The money raised will be split 50/50 between Gundersen Lutheran Health Systems - Spring Grove Clinic and Mayo Health Systems - Caledonia Clinic. The donation to Gundersen Lutheran Health Systems will be designated to the Spring Grove Mobile Mammography Unit, and the donation to Mayo Health Systems will be designated for local mammograms.

"We would like the funding to be used to help women that don't have the means to pay for a mammogram."

"Instead of being a little frog in the ocean, we're a big frog in a little pond," Reburn said. "You feel like you're getting something done. You can actually see the benefits."