Pittsburgh Penguins players and coaches traded their sticks and skates for bowling balls as the Penguins Wives Association hosted the 2nd annual “Pens and Pins” charity bowling tournament to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia at the Crafton-Ingram Bowling Lanes on Friday night.
Each player or coach served as a celebrity team captain and was paired with one of the 11 Make-A-Wish patients in attendance. They were joined by about 80 other bowlers who donated to Make-A-Wish to throw a couple frames with their favorite players.
“This is great,” goaltender Brent Johnson
said. “Everyone has fun bowling. Getting everyone together and doing this for a great cause is fantastic.”
Dana Antkowiak, the Marketing/Communications Coordinator for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, praised the work of the Penguins’ wives, girlfriends and players for putting on such a first-class event. She says without something like this, Make-A-Wish could never satisfy the 700-plus wishes they grant each year.
“Our kids are some of the biggest Penguins fans around,” Antkowiak said. “This is such an awesome event for them to get up close and personal with the players. It’s so awesome they give up their time like this. The kids have an absolute blast. Without events like this our mission isn’t possible.”
An event like “Pens and Pins” also couldn’t be possible without the work of the players’ wives and girlfriends. Led by defenseman Brooks Orpik
’s girlfriend, Erin Lilly, six months of planning went into putting on the charity bowling tournament.
“The planning process is about five to six months,” Lilly said. “It definitely went way smoother this year and was a lot less stressful. All of the girls are helping in different facets. It just depends what they want to do. Every single family is here working.”
Orpik said he is proud of the work put in by both his girlfriend and the other women to make sure everything ran so smoothly.
“They put a lot of time in it,” Orpik said. “I think this second time around was a lot easier than the first. It is something they take a lot of pride in. It turned out well – just like it did last year.”
Johnson, who was participating in his first “Pens and Pins” tournament, continues to be amazed at how well the entire Penguins family comes together for events such as these.
“It has been a unified thing since I first got here,” Johnson said. “It hasn’t stopped. From the word “go” everyone is involved here. This is the first time I have seen everyone from the wives to the girlfriends to the players all getting involved. This was awesome.”
The bowling shirts worn by the players will be autographed and auctioned off for charity starting January 29.