Submitted by Ann-Marie McKenna
“Mommy, I did it! I did it, Mommy!” Clearly these are familiar words that any mother has heard many times. Nothing new, nothing unusual, or is it? Indeed, it is! Those words were uttered by a precious 6 year-old girl named Alyssa. Alyssa is one of two young wish recipients who attended the weekend-long fundraising extravaganza held at Strikers East Bowling Center in Raymond, NH.
“Mommy, I did it!” can also be said to characterize the great success of High Hopes Foundation of NH and Strikers East. We all did it – High Hopes Foundation shoulder-to-shoulder with Strikers East. This great partnership netted in excess of $17,500 on behalf of the High Hopes mission of granting wishes to seriously or chronically ill children in NH. Stephen Hardy, part owner of Strikers East, has always been passionate about bowling and helping kids, and has found a way to meld these two passions. For the past decade, Stephen and his wife Lisa have made a huge difference for High Hopes Foundation. Strikers East is not your average bowling establishment. For ten years, Strikers East has hosted a weekend-long bowling fest to raise funds for High Hopes Foundation, a NH-based, non-profit, wish-granting organization in existence for nearly 30 years. Pro bowlers and scratch bowlers joined forces to bowl for money, lots of money. Generosity triumphed from Friday, October 19th through Sunday, October 21st. I had the opportunity to witness this extravaganza first-hand as a High Hopes Foundation volunteer. I was in awe of the community spirit and big-heartedness of the Pro Am and scratch bowlers alike.
On Friday night, bowlers and High Hopes volunteers had the distinct honor of meeting 7 year-old Gus and his family. Gus has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Friday evening, Nicole Martini, Executive Director of High Hopes, took to the mike and introduced Gus to all of us. Then she told Gus the exciting news that he and his family would be going to Disney World during next year’s April vacation. Nicole asked Gus to watch a brief video about Give Kids the World, located near Disney World and founded by Holocaust survivors. Give Kids the World is a popular wish destination for many High Hopes recipients. The sparkle in Gus’ eyes and his repeated “Thank You’s” evoked tears of joy. Pro Bowler Parker Bohn III then invited Gus to bowl a strike. Gus stepped up to the lane, rolled the bowling ball forward, and the pins magically went down. A burst of applause erupted. Everyone knew why they were there – for kids just like Gus!
Now back to Alyssa and her endearing words, “Mommy, I did it!” Early Saturday afternoon, it was 6 year-old Alyssa’s turn to charm the bowlers and High Hopes volunteers in attendance. Alyssa has Cerebral Palsy and recently had both her legs casted to stretch out her calf muscles in an attempt to make it easier for her to walk. Nicole again announced to Alyssa and everyone that Alyssa and her family would be jetting to Disney World the day after Thanksgiving. Nicole gave Alyssa a princess doll and asked her to watch a brief Give Kids the World video. It took Alyssa a few seconds to believe her dream would really come true and that she would meet real-life Disney princesses! She embraced her doll like an old friend.[frame_left link=”” lightbox=”false” popupw=”” popuph=”” icon=”none” title=”” desc=””]http://www.highhopesfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Alyssa.jpg[/frame_left]
Pro Bowler Parker Bohn III then escorted Alyssa to the lane to bowl a strike. She handed him her bright pink walking sticks, crouched down to her hands and knees, and rolled the hefty bowling ball forward.
Everyone gasped as all the pins went down, but none louder than Alyssa’s words to her Mom, “Mommy, I did it! I did it, Mommy!” That single moment transformed Alyssa and her outlook on life. Her Mom reported later that Alyssa asked for her suitcase so that she could start packing a month ahead of the trip. Since that fated weekend, Alyssa has been watching Disney movies and reading Disney books every day to be current on all her characters. As I write this, tears of joy again well up. We can all learn from the little children like Gus and Alyssa who continue to inspire and amaze us. It reminds us all why we do what we do. It’s truly all about giving hope, joy, and light to the most special among us. Indeed, hope transforms! We once again thank all who participated in making this event one for the history books.