Fleetwood bowlers strike against cancer

Patriot photo by Roxanne Richardson
Patriot photo by Roxanne Richardson

The bowling ball zigged when it should have zagged and ended up in the gutter while a ball speeding down the adjacent lane connected with a bang sending the pins flying. It didn’t matter how the pins fell, as long as the Fleetwood church members and area families bowled to fight against cancer.

Sponsored by St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Fleetwood, the event was organized by the church’s Relay For Life team to help raise money for the annual Relay For Life walk held in May. The 150 people of all ages gathered at Heisters Lanes Jan. 19, for an evening of family fun as well as for a good cause.

“We had 32 lanes to sell and we sold 32 lanes,” said Cindy Tobias, event chairperson.

In a matter of a couple of weeks, the tickets sold out to family, friends, church members, and through word-of-mouth.


“This is an unbelievable turnout,” said Bob Wegener, team member.

“This is by far our best fund raiser ever,” added Bob Dietrich.

“A lot of the people that are here tonight haven’t bowled in 20 years,” said Joyce, Bob Dietrich’s wife and Relay For Life team captain. “They’re doing it for the cause plus they’re doing it to have fun. I’m a cancer survivor so knowing that we sold the whole thing tonight, this is good because it goes to research for cancer.”

As a three-year survivor of ovarian cancer, Joyce recalled when she was first diagnosed and treatments had begun.

“They sent me this huge envelope filled with a whole lot of information, booklets and everything and who to talk to. They have a Feel Good/Look Good program which I went to and it helps when you lose all your hair. They really helped a lot.”

When Joyce first took over the team a year ago, there were only a few members. She launched a campaign asking people to join and now there are about 18 members going strong. Last year, because of being a small team, they were only able to accomplish a couple of fundraisers, but this year, in addition to the bowling, they are sponsoring a Valentine’s Day dance, a hoagie sale and a Dine-in/Dine-Out sale at Fiore’s in Fleetwood. They just had a Sweet Street Dessert fundraiser that Dietrich said was a great success. Their next goal is to find sponsorships from businesses.

“She has changed so much; you wouldn’t believe Joyce,” said Bob. “Joyce was a person that was in the background; she was never very talkative. With her having the cancer and joining the Relay For Life team, she has jumped right up to the front. She has done two Temple Talks in front of the whole church. She has blossomed with this here.”

St. Paul’s gives its members a chance to talk to the congregation prior to the service about an experience or to relay information to the church. Bob said Joyce talked about the cancer and Relay For Life and how it affected her and what she has tried to accomplish.

“We get an awful lot of backing from the church itself. The people that go to our church are behind us 100 percent; the pastor is behind us 100 percent,” said Bob. “Last year was Pastor Bob’s 25th anniversary as a minister, 10 years with us, and they had a brunch for him. The congregation collected $1,800 to give him and he donated it to Relay For Life.”

Bob said it’s not just one person or two people; the whole team contributes a lot. For more information, go to http://www.stpaulsfleetwood.com/.