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Players Participate in Annual "Pens & Pins" Charity Bowling Tournament

by Brittany Goncar / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins showed off their skills in the fourth annual “Pens & Pins” Charity Bowling Tournament at the Crafton-Ingram Bowling Lanes on Monday night.

The event was organized and run by the Penguins Wives Association, with all proceeds from the evening – including funds collected from an auction and baked goods – being donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia. This year's tournament raised an incredible $54,000 to benefit those charities.

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Fans were dispersed into teams among the lanes with Penguins players as celebrity team captains. It's an event that goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury enjoys coming back to each year.

“It’s been great,” Fleury said. “I think it’s been a great success, plus it’s fun too. We get a chance to meet the kids and have some fun with them. “

Paul Belluomini, who has followed the Pens since 1970, assured that the fans in attendance had an absolute blast as well meeting their favorite players for a good cause.

“I bought my wife a ticket to this as a Christmas present this year,” Belluomini said. “As a surprise Christmas present her sisters bought me a ticket and it was complete shock. So I’m here and it’s awesome."

Center Jordan Staal, who was Belluomini’s team captain, is always pleased with the turnout for this event. 

“It’s great,” he said. “Every year it’s always a good showing and there’s a lot of great people here. A lot of people I have seen in the past years, so it’s always nice to see them again.

“It’s a great cause and I’m happy to be here.”

Jenna Hoover wanted to come last year, but couldn’t get tickets in time. So this year, she got to celebrate her 23rd birthday at the event.

“My mom decided that it was going to be my birthday present,” Hoover said. “Not only are we Pens fans, but it’s really cool to get to see all the Make-A Wish kids here because, obviously, that’s the reason why we are all here.”

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Dan Potash of ROOT SPORTS was the guest emcee again this year, navigating the fans and players through a night that included strikes, gutter balls, mystery puck selections and a silent auction. He even reminded defenseman Kris Letang that it was his turn to bowl when his team got distracted.

The original idea was the brainchild of Brooks Orpik's fiancee, Erin Lilly. Lilly said that she first thought about possibly hosting a charity bowling event after living in Boston and learning about how the Bruins’ wives do a carnival event each year.

“The ring leader of the event is Brooks Orpik’s fiancé, Erin Lily,” said Craig Adams' wife Anne, who organized the bake sale. “She works with Make-A-Wish and organizes most of the big decisions, then she delegates to some of the wives to do all the smaller parts of the event.”

Since it began in 2009, Pens & Pins has raised over $173,000 – and Dana Anckowiak, Marketing Communications Coordinator for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, couldn't say enough about how it's grown in the last four years.

“Tonight is just going absolutely wonderful,” Anckowiak said. “I can’t believe it’s our fourth year doing this already. We are so grateful to the organization and the Wives and Girlfriends Association for all of their hard work with this event. Each year it has just grown exponentially.”
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