By Christine Bryant
After losing his father and sister to cancer, Joe Nunan decided to fight back.
“I guess when you lose people so close to you and people who are true heroes to you, you do what you can to keep that memory alive,” he said.
An annual event now in its third year, Nunan and his family will once again host the Professional Bowling Association Central Region Debbie and Leo Nunan Memorial April 11. The event, in memory of his father and sister, draws nearly 75 bowlers from six states and Canada, with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society through the Grove City Relay for Life.
“The support that comes from an event like this is truly amazing,” Nunan said.
Nunan initially began raising funds for cancer research through the Relay for Life in 2008. Being a bowling fan, however, prompted Nunan to raise additional funds by hosting his own professional bowling tournament and naming it after his father and sister.
Leo, his father, died in 1989 at the age of 45 from lung and brain cancer, while his younger sister, Debbie, died in 2007 at the age of 39 from esophageal cancer. She was the mother of two sons, Leo and Dante, ages 11 and 4 at the time of her death.
Nunan said he has also lost an aunt and two uncles to cancer.
The deaths of his father and sister not only left a void in the Nunan family, it also affected the Grove City community as well, Nunan said.
“My dad coached baseball, basketball, football and softball at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and coached football at Brookpark Middle School, Finland Middle School and Bishop Ready High School,” he said.
For Jerralyn Garich, holding the fundraiser is a way to pay tribute to the husband and daughter she lost, as well as raise awareness for the support and early detection of cancer.
“Debbie was a young, working mom raising two young sons when she lost her battle,” Garich said. “Children should not have to spend most of their lives without one of their parents.”
The April 11 fundraiser will be held from 6 p.m. to midnight at AMF Stardust Lanes, 2434 Old Stringtown Road. Families are invited to attend, with a cost of $20 for adults and $10 for children, which includes shoes and four games of bowling.
“At 7 p.m., the pro am starts, giving people the opportunity to bowl with friends and family and some of the best pro bowlers in the country,” Nunan said.
Registration for the pro am starts at 6:30 p.m. and is open to only 48 spots.
“During the pro am we will have food, a cash bar, 50/50 drawing raffles and a key sale to try and open the grand prize of a three-day, two-night trip to Las Vegan,” Nunan said.
Keys may be purchased for $10.
The Nunans are still accepting corporate sponsors and donations for the event. Contact Joe Nunan at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.