Over 100 fans, NFL players and professional bowlers descended upon South Point Casino in Las Vegas Saturday to help kids' wishes come true. The event, part of Strikes for Kids, paired everyday bowlers with pro bowlers (and NFL Pro Bowlers), with proceeds from attendees going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation Southern Nevada.
Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas and safety Duke Ihenacho were among the dozen-or-so NFL players in attendance. Other NFL players in attendance included Chargers running back Ryan Mathews, Chargers linebacker Thomas Keiser, and Panthers running back Kenjon Barner.
"It's just to show our appreciation for the community, and for the kids who don't get to see people like us every day," Ihenacho said. "It's always good to come in and interact with people - not only kids, but with their families. They see us on T.V., and then they see us here, in their face, talking to them, shaking their hands, taking pictures with them, and it just brightens up their day.
"I think anybody would love the opportunity to just come here and brighten up somebody's day," said Ihenacho.
"It's an honor to host this great event that combines two of America's favorite pastimes, bowling and football, all to benefit a terrific cause," Strikes for Kids Founder Joe Allen said in a release. "Strikes For Kids has grown into an organization that coordinates some of the biggest bowling events around the country."
The event, combined with a silent auction of autographed memorabilia from the players, helped raise thousands for Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Siiiiiick pic.twitter.com/BQ43hwwldf— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) April 13, 2014
Mile High Report was on-site, and I can tell you, the event was a lot of fun. Broncos fans outnumbered any other fanbase (we'd like to think our story last Saturday helped with that), and many happy Broncos fans got pictures with and autographs from Julius Thomas and Duke Ihenacho. (Broncos kicker Matt Prater was slated to attend but did not make it.)
Kids from Make-A-Wish got to enjoy bowling with NFL players and professional bowlers - even if the NFL players made them break a sweat
"I made a bet with a kid that if he didn't bowl a strike, he had to do some push-ups," Ihenacho said, laughing. "You know, he's a kid, so he took it."
The young boy probably did 100 push-ups throughout the night, smiling the whole way.
"He's kind of buff now," Ihenacho said. "I think his biceps got a little bigger."
Strikes For Kids has previously held events in Denver, and will again around the time of the Broncos' 2014 preseason exhibition game against the Seahawks August 7-10, Allen said. If you can make it, I highly recommend you try. Everyone in attendance had a blast.
It was the best opportunity for fans to interact with Broncos players I've seen. And you get to have fun while contributing to a good cause.
- Strikes For Kids 2014 Las Vegas NFL players and professional bowlers. Center (red hat): Duke Ihenacho.
- Broncos TE Julius Thomas signs for a fan.
- Barner and Ihenacho compare technique with a professional bowler..
- Broncos fans and bowling fans converged for Strikes For Kids Las Vegas.
- Broncos S Duke Ihenacho signs an autograph for a young fan.
- Julius Thomas, takin' selfies.
- Panthers RB Kenjon Barner
- Chargers RB Ryan Mathews
- Chargers LB Thomas Keiser
- Broncos fans unite It was fun to meet Margaret and Mike from Seattle, who came to the event after reading about it on MHR!
- This autographed Broncos bag (by Julius Thomas) was among several prizes available at the silent auction.
- Broncos TE Julius Thomas poses with a fan.
- "1-2-3 BREAK!"
- Ihenacho celebrates the last photo.