Matt Martin doesn't bowl often, but when he does, he makes sure he rolls a couple of strikes - and raises tens of thousand of dollars for charities on Long Island.
That was the scene on Monday night when the Matt Martin Foundation held its third annual bowling fundraiser at Bowlmor Long Island in Melville, raising $50K - a record for the bowling night. There was no single beneficiary, as the Islanders forward's foundation contributes to charities in support of our first responders, cystic fibrosis, the raising and training of service dogs for people in need as well as various other community initiatives.
"It's just to help as many as possible and the community here," Martin said. "This is our third bowling fundraiser. Every year it seems to get bigger and bigger. We're grateful for the Islanders fans and people in the community who take the time to come out and support my foundation and help our causes. There's a lot of familiar faces and some new faces as well."
With the purchase of an admission ticket, the attendees had the opportunity to strike up conversations with Martin, enjoy a buffet and play a few rounds of bowling. The event sold out every one of the bowling lanes at the facility and heightened the intensity of the competition to win prizes including signed memorabilia and classic bowling trophies.
Martin took pictures and signed autographs with fans before showing off his bowling skills, an activity he fondly recalled playing in the summer back with his dad in Windsor, Ontario.
"The bowling event is fun," Martin said. "I don't [bowl] very often during the year, but I love doing it. It's pretty relaxed and especially great for the summer. I remember going with my dad as a kid. The environment here is awesome and we're all here to raise money for a great cause. It's a great event and one I look forward to every year."
Sparky the Dragon and Radar, the Islanders Puppy with a Purpose, were on hand Monday, adding some star power to the event. Radar's inclusion was noteworthy because Martin's foundation is currently training a new service dog named Clarkie, a nod to Islanders legend and Hall of Famer Clark Gillies. An event like the bowling fundraiser, provides great support for Martin's initiatives like raising a service dog. Clarkie, a German Shepard, will be the fourth service dog raised by the Matt Martin Foundation.
"When we started the foundation, we were helping a lot of different causes and sending the money to those causes," Martin said. "Over the last few years, we wanted to have a more hands on approach. I'm a dog lover. It seemed like a no brainer. It's pretty amazing the impact a service dog can have on somebody's life. Clark Gillies may be my favorite former Islander and we have a pretty good relationship, so we wanted to name [the dog] after Gillies. We're trying to work with as many dogs as possible. Obviously, events like this help raise money for that."
So while Martin doesn't bowl often, he delivered another strike on Monday night.