TAYLOR, Mich. — Saturday afternoon in the Detroit suburb of Taylor, Bobby Lashley headlined a bowling fundraiser at Skore Lanes to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The ECW champ was joined by Rey Mysterio, Val Venis, Jamie Noble, The Highlanders and Victoria at the “Bowl With Bobby Lashley WrestleMania 23 Make-A-Wish Foundation Charity Bowling Event.” Chris Nowinski was also seen roving the concourse and meeting fans.
Prior to the bowling portion of the day’s festivities, the wrestlers met VIP ticket holders and Make-A-Wish children and their families for an intimate autograph and photo session. Make-A-Wish is also a participant in the WWE Circle of Champions program.
“Last year when the Super Bowl was in Detroit, we had an NFL charity event,” said Roger Philipi, director of operations and guest happiness (yes, that’s his title!) for Community Bowling Centers. “When we heard WWE was going to be here in Detroit, we talked to some WWE people and came up with this concept. First, we’d have this bowling event, we’d raise money for a charity that is close to WWE (Make-A-Wish) and we would have “Raw Nights” here (at Skore Lanes) where fans could come and bowl and watch Raw on Monday nights.”
Philipi estimated about 440 people signed up for the event with tickets ranging from $50 for a casual spectator to $2,500 for a 12-person team sponsorship.
Door prizes were handed out and a silent auction also was part of the day.
“I’m not really a competitive bowler,” laughed Victoria. “So I hope I don’t make a fool out of myself.”
“Wow, Sign Guy’s here,” said Venis. “How cool is that?”
The wrestlers, save for Lashley and Mysterio, started on one lane, bowled a frame and moved down to bowl with a new group. They posed for more photos and signed autographs as time permitted. Lashley and Mysterio met fans and bowled at one end of the building and heard the loudest cheers when Lashley, who stopped three feet in front of foul line, obliterated the pins.
A multitude of smiles were present, but according to one organizer, more than what she imagined.
“This is the turnout we expected,” said Fran Wood of Bowl Detroit. “And then some. This is one of, if not the biggest fundraisers we’ve ever had here at Community Bowling Centers. The one for the Super Bowl was big, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this was bigger.”
Philipi added that he expects between $12,000 and $18,000 to be raised for Make-A-Wish.
“Everyone loves bowling,” Philipi said. “And to be able to bowl with these wrestlers, it’s such an intimate event and one we’re very happy about.”
Once the bowling was done, the wrestlers again met with VIPs for another meet-and-greet opportunity before heading downtown for the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.