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.
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 avl.mx/3j0 for more information on CAF or Bowl-A-Thon West. 

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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

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