The sounds of rolling balls, falling pins and Guns ‘n’ Roses filled the air at Thunder Rolls Bowling Center Saturday night in Craig.
More than 20 area residents visited the bowling alley to try their luck at strike contests, door prize giveaways and a high-score competition that took place during a fundraiser to benefit the Bowlers to Veterans Link, a national nonprofit organization that supports veterans and active-duty servicemen and women.
Absolute Drains, an area drain cleaning company, hosted the event, which raised $462.
Craig resident Shirley Snare bowled 137, the highest score among women during the three-game event.
“That means that nobody bowled real good,” Snare said with a laugh.
Snare said she has two brothers, two nephews and a son who have served in the military. She typically bowls on Sundays and Thursdays, but came to Saturday’s event to support veterans.
“We owe everything that we can do for the people who are fighting,” Snare said.
James Wheeler, a mechanic at Thunder Rolls, bowled 212, the highest score among men.
Wheeler, whose father served in the Navy, said the event was a “good opportunity” to do something positive for veterans.
“I hope they’re all taken care of,” Wheeler said.
Paul Auwaerter, a bartender at Thunder Rolls, donated his tips to Bowlers to Veterans Link.
Auwaerter said the fundraiser was necessary because the government isn’t doing enough for veterans.
“I don’t want to get too political, but they’re not doing a whole lot better now than when the boys came back from Vietnam,” he said of the federal government’s support for veterans.
Auwaerter was in the Air Force during the Vietnam era.
“I’ve never been in combat, but I’ve had a lot of friends who were,” he said. “It’s not a fun thing.”
Auwaerter contends that returning veterans face many struggles.
“You come back with a lot of messed up views inside your head,” he said. “You have a lot of questions about your own self-worth and your own values that are totally ignored.”
The “common public,” Auwaerter said, is largely unaware of issues veterans face.
Beryl Dschaak, co-owner of Thunder Rolls, expressed concern that the event Saturday didn’t raise enough awareness.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have the turnout we’d expected,” Dschaak said. “I’d like to have people who couldn’t make it (Saturday) come in and support the veterans.”
Dschaak said Thunder Rolls will continue to raise money for veterans until mid-November. Her business is accepting donations for Bowlers to Veterans Link, and selling raffle tickets for five freedom bowling balls, which feature graphics of American pride.
The continuing fundraising effort will culminate in a Nov. 13 flag dedication ceremony at Thunder Rolls. That same day, veterans can bowl for free from 1 to 5 p.m., and winners of the freedom balls will be announced.
In the meantime, Auwaerter said he has advice for the government.
“Treat (the veterans) with dignity and respect when they come back rather than shuffle them off like case numbers,” he said.