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Sponsor Story: Bowl-A-Noma

We have a very special sponsor profile to share with you today: Bowl-A-Noma. This interview was conducted with Richard Hull, the founder of Bowl-A-Noma, in May 2023.

Hi Richard! Can you tell me about Bowl-A-Noma and the story behind how it was founded?

My son, Elliott Hull, passed away from melanoma at 35 in 2018. He was diagnosed in June and passed away in October. Bowl-A-Noma was a spur of the moment thought. I had a conversation with Elliott prior to his passing expressing to him I felt the need to do something in his honor. While he said he did not feel the need to have his name attached to a charity, he understood and approved of my need for a purpose in order for me to move forward and make something good stemming from the premature loss of his life. After he passed away, I was sitting outside with my family and I said “Bowl-A-Noma: Strike Out Cancer, Spare a Life.” Everyone I shared the idea with immediately supported it. I grew up bowling and it’s a great way to have fun with your family and friends. There are lots of fundraisers where you run, walk, bike – bowling is something different and BOWL-A-NOMA, a contraction of bowling and melanoma, has a nice ring to it. We held our first event in May of 2019 and were approved as a 501(c)(3) public charity nonprofit. We chose May because it is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month. I contacted the Mayor’s office and we received the official proclamation from then Mayor Jenny Durkan that the third Saturday in May is Bowl-A-Noma Day in Seattle.

Our mission is four-dimensional. The number one purpose is to keep Elliott’s spirit alive. Second, we fund medical research directed toward melanoma variants which are particularly difficult to treat. We will fund medical institutions which care for melanoma patients who do not have the means to pay for their treatment. Lastly, we are working on educational outreach. For the most part, melanoma is preventable. Organizing a fundraising tournament for high school bowlers is a good way to move into the public school system on a statewide level.

Elliott played for Queen Anne Little League for years. What inspired the idea to sponsor a team?
It was my daughter, Amelia’s, idea. Her namesake daughter, Elliette, plays T-Ball for Queen Anne Little League. She said “Why don’t we sponsor a team Elliette can play on?” I took the idea to our Board and they were so inspired, two of our Board members completely covered the sponsor fee. My impetus was outreach – spreading awareness of Bowl-A-Noma and its mission.

How has Bowl-A-Noma gone the last few years?
We were very happy with results the first year in 2019. We resumed in 2022 following COVID and the event was well-attended. Because we are an organization run completely by volunteers, along with our initial event, the fundraising we did during COVID left us with $42K in the bank. My wife, Louise, contacted Fred Hutch (Heart of the Hutch article about Bowl-A-Noma) and learned about Dr. Kevin Barry, who treats challenging melanoma variants and works on life-prolonging therapies. Knowing our second bowling event would draw more people and raise more money, we contracted with Fred Hutch to present our first grant during the event to Dr. Barry and his lab in the amount of $50K. That was a bittersweet moment. Our event this year: “BOWL-A-NOMA A GoGo: A Swingin’ 60s Sensation!” was nearly sold out. I have visions of selling out the lanes in 2024 and putting “Standing Room Only” across our banner. There are those who say: “Oh, I don’t bowl.” To them, I say: “Bowling can be a spectator sport. Come, join our crusade to Strike Out Cancer & Spare A Life!” In addition to a participation fee, we sell raffle tickets and auction off items during the event as a means of fundraising.

What would Elliott want everyone to know or do?
Your skin is your largest organ. It protects your body. Protect it back! Wear sunscreen. Don’t use tanning beds. Think of it this way: If you get your teeth checked twice a year, consider having your doctor check your skin once yearly. Washington has the second highest rate of melanoma diagnoses in the nation. Melanoma is on the rise every single year. Elliott’s melanoma was regressive, meaning his original lesion moved inward rather than growing visibly on his skin.

How can the Queen Anne community support Bowl-A-Noma?
Check out our site: The 2024 Bowl-A-Noma event will be held on Saturday, May 18th at 7pm at TechCity Bowl in Kirkland:

Registration opens each year on April 1st. Please follow us on Facebook and Instagram, think of us if you hold a birthday fundraiser, and tell a friend about us. I have a vision for the Bowl-A-Noma brand: two events a year for charity that provide good entertainment, eventually to include an “Anything But Black Masquerade (Bowling) Ball!” Black is the color of the melanoma ribbon.

You can reach Richard at [email protected]

Please help spread the word about Bowl-A-Noma so we can share Elliott’s story and Richard’s mission to Strike Out Cancer and Spare A Life!

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