Conscious party: Bowl-A-Thon West

STRIKES AND SOLIDARITY: Costumes are ecouraged at Bowl-A-Thon West, a family-friendly bowling event that aims to normalize and raise funds for abortions. Photo courtesy of Carolina Abortion Fund

WHAT: A bowling fundraiser for Carolina Abortion Fund

WHERE: Sky Lanes Asheville

WHEN: Sunday, April 9, 12:45-3 p.m.

WHY: Years ago, the National Network of Abortion Funds identified bowling alleys as an ideal venue for regional abortion funds to host events. Most towns have a bowling alley, Anna Pfaff of Carolina Abortion Fund points out. Plus, they’re economically accessible, family-friendly and pretty fun, she continues. “And who doesn’t like rented shoes?”

Accordingly, CAF is lacing up in Asheville and aiming to raise $10,000 at its third annual Bowl-A-Thon West event. Individuals and teams can register online to collect donations from their personal networks prior to the bowling day, which is “really just about celebrating all the work we’ve done,” Pfaff says. “The bowling is like the cherry on top.”

Prizes go to participants with the best and worst costumes, team name and bowling skills; greatest team spirit; most money raised; longest distance traveled; and more. And everyone gets cupcakes. Meanwhile, conversations tend to steer toward the “normalness” of abortions, Pfaff says.

Because CAF is volunteer-run and has no offices, 100 percent of event proceeds will go to women seeking abortions. Specifically, CAF operates a 24-hour help line that distributes modest stipends  — usually $100, but up to $300 toward an abortion, which costs roughly $500 on average — to North Carolinians getting an abortion in the state or to women traveling into or out of North Carolina for the procedure.

Though CAF’s volunteers field an average of 10-25 calls per day (in English and Spanish), the weekly budget for grants hovers around $1,000. So, operators prioritize cases involving minors, sexual assault, violence, homelessness and other complicating factors rather than screening based on income, education, employment or number of kids. “That’s irrelevant to us,” Pfaff says. “We understand that the need is there.”

Beyond financial barriers, women in rural areas like Western North Carolina may face increased challenges with transportation and social stigma when seeking an abortion, she explains. And since some doctors don’t publicize that they offer abortions, specialized clinics like Planned Parenthood are assumed to be the only options — thus exacerbating accessibility issues.

As CAF’s only Asheville-based board member and organizer, Pfaff reflects: “Certainly [cosmopolitan areas] have a need. But we feel like in order to maintain equitable access, we really want to be made available to places where the barriers are big.”

Visit for more information on CAF or Bowl-A-Thon West. 


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.