Bowl-a-thon to help local autism group

WEIRTON – An annual fundraiser will benefit a cause that hits close to home for some local youth bowlers.

On April 12, a bowl-a-thon will be held from noon to 2 p.m. at Holiday Lanes in Weirton, and hosted by the Holiday Lanes Youth Bowling League.

While the event aims each year to bring in money for the league’s scholarship funds, this year it also will benefit Ryan’s Prayer of Hope and Healing for Autism, an organization based in Brooke County to assist those with conditions on the autism spectrum.

In the past, the bowl-a-thon also has raised money for groups such as Make-A-Wish and St. Jude’s.

“This year, we wanted to pick something more local,” league treasurer Tammy Wounaris said. “All the proceeds will be divided between the two.”

The cost to participate in the bowl-a-thon is $15 per person, which includes two hours of cosmic bowling and shoe rental.

Ryan’s Prayer was founded by Jason Polgar, a member of the youth bowling league, and inspired by his younger brother, Ryan, who has autism. The non-profit group is assisted by the Follansbee Christian Assembly.

Polgar explained his brother has had difficulty communicating as a result of his condition, but, through the assistance of an iPad gifted by his grandfather, Ryan has been able to begin speaking in short sentences.

“There’s a communication app,” Polgar explained, noting the program associates images with words.

Ryan’s Prayer already has raised enough money to purchase an iPad for a student at Hooverson Heights Primary School, and hopes to provide similar gifts for other area students with autism in the future.

In addition to the bowling, the event will include the sale of bookmarks and prize drawings.

Wounaris said another member of the youth league also has autism, and they are looking into the possibility of creating a league for children with special needs.

For more information on the bowl-a-thon, contact Holiday Lanes at (304) 748-6116 or Wounaris at (304) 374-1314. For information on Ryan’s Prayer, call (304) 604-2538.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)