WILKES-BARRE — Participants in the 12th annual Bowling for the Brave fundraiser on Sunday are hoping to strike out cancer among emergency responders.
The event, sponsored by Foundation 58, a nonprofit organization dedicated solely to providing assistance to firefighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel battling cancer, brought out over 200 people to Chacko’s Family Bowling Center, some with a love for bowling, but all with a commitment to help emergency responders and their families.
The foundation exists in memory of Gabriel Mhley, a Hazleton city volunteer firefighter with 17 years of service who lost his battle with cancer in 2003 at age 47.
Mhley, who wore badge number 58, was remembered by many attendees as someone committed to community and to safety.
His brother Andy Mhley, said he believes Gabe would have been amazed at the turnout and pleased that, in some way, he was able to continue assisting the community.
John Edstrom, an attendee of the event, was himself a recipient of a grant from the foundation in 2014.
Edstrom remembers not knowing where funding for his medical treatment would come from.
“They helped me get insurance that made that treatment possible,” he said. “If it was not for Foundation 58, I don’t know if I would be here.”
Edstrom, who is cancer-free today, said the treatment was extensive and ongoing.
“Before it was all over, I not only needed medical treatment, but dental work and other things,” he said. “Pharmaceutical costs were in the thousands of dollars.”
Keith Mhley, Gabe’s cousin who founded the organization with Gabe’s brother Justin shortly after his death, said Sunday’s event was anticipated to raise over $15,000.
“In the last two years, we were able to provide $37,000 in grant money to assist emergency responders battling cancer,” he said. “They have used the money for treatment, for transportation, for medication. There are so many needs that accompany cancer treatment.”
Mhley referenced the organization’s webpage which details the experiences of emergency responders with cancer and their gratitude for help they have received from Foundation 58.
To Edstrom, the support when far beyond the money he received.
“I felt like they cared about me,” he said. “Their support during that time was so important.”
Joel Mumie, a longtime volunteer fire fighter in Hazleton and Hazle Township, said the past week’s weather events didn’t influence turnout.
“People came from everywhere,” he said. “From Allentown, from Scranton. They’re committed to supporting this effort.”
Mumie said he participated in the event throughout its history.
“I’m an avid bowler,” he said. “When I found out that we were raising money for such a good cause and I would be able to bowl, it was perfect.”
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