ROCKFORD — For one afternoon, Rockford IceHogs center Jake Dowell’s focus will be on knocking down pins instead of slamming pucks into opponents’ nets — and it will be personal.
The IceHogs are committed to a bowling event fundraiser Sunday, March 21, to help a local Huntington’s disease support group raise money to install a computer-supported telemedicine system at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford that allows a patient in one location to be examined by a doctor in another location.
The group is interested in the system because the approximately 30 Huntington’s sufferers in Rockford now must travel to Rush University in Chicago or to Marshfield, Wis., for treatment. The system would cut a treatment session that, with travel time, involves virtually all day to an hour or two.
“We do a lot of things for different charities and for people who need help,” Dowell said, “but this is one that is really important to me because both my dad and my brother have Huntington’s disease. Physically and mentally, it takes over your brain, takes over your memory and your speech. It takes over all your muscles.”
Huntington’s disease is a disorder passed down through families. It is progressive and degenerative, causing certain nerve cells in the brain to waste away.
Early symptoms of the disease can be behavior changes such as anti-social behavior, hallucinations, irritability, moodiness, restlessness and paranoia, but patients also experience uncontrolled movements, emotional disturbances and mental deterioration.
There is no cure and no known way to stop the disease’s progression, but some medications can help manage symptoms. Death occurs about 10 to 30 years after the symptoms first appear.
“You, basically, just try to slow down the course of the disease and the progression of it,” Dowell said, “and try to make the people who have it as comfortable as possible in the time they still have.”
The bowl-a-thon benefit is scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m. March 21 at Cherry Bowl, 7171 Cherryvale North Boulevard.
The event is seeking 100 entrants who will be able to bowl with IceHogs players, coaches or front office staff. The last 30 minutes of the event will include an autograph session with the players.
The entry fee is $40 per person or $150 for a team of four bowlers to include three games of bowling, shoe and ball rental, a goody bag, and one ticket in a raffle. Prizes in the raffle include an IceHogs autographed hockey stick, two pairs of two tickets for four IceHogs regular-season home games, four tickets for a Chicago Blackhawks home game, six Ice Box seats tickets, eight club box tickets in the Dental Dimensions Club Lounge and four framed IceHogs photos.
A premium raffle, with tickets at $5 each or five for $20, will be available with prizes that include a suite for an IceHogs game, two game-worn IceHogs jerseys and two 20 packs of tickets for the IceHogs’ 2010-2011 season. Tickets in a 50/50 raffle also will be on sale.
Visit icehogs.com to download a registration for or contact Nate Haeni at 815-986-6465 for more information. The registration deadline is Friday, March 12.
Staff writer Mike DeDoncker can be reached at 815-987-1382 or email@example.com.