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Year-long planning leads to lofty goals for 2014 Bowl-4-Animal-Rescue

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With a restructured goal and high energy, Livonia’s Michelle Mullen and Aleta Sill have kicked off their annual fundraiser to benefit Detroit area shelter animals and street rescues. Looking to best the previous eight years’ results on August 9th, the two hall-of-fame bowlers seized on 2014 to hit an all-time record and increase overall participation in their Bowl-4-Animal-Rescue event.

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Now, the ladies meet year-round with a dedicated group of volunteers to brainstorm ideas and implement ongoing improvements. Their ultimate hope is to enhance and/or top each event, as they grow in leaps, bounds and puppy kisses.

“We raised the goal because the need is so great out there,” said Mullen, a former Team USA coach, champion bowler and co-owner of Aleta Sill’s Bowling World Pro Shop in Farmington Hills. “We have to strive to help more animals in need; if we reach this, it would bring our (overall) total raised to more than $200,000!”

The target for 2014 is $50,000, upping last year’s intake by $10,000. The 2013 totals included $25,000 from the actual evening of bowling and $15,000 through accompanying website pledges. Such growth starkly compares to the $6,500 raised in B4AR’s first year, although Mullen and Sill strive for perfection to do more and mean more to Detroit-area animals.

A full 100 percent of money raised benefits The Dearborn Animal Shelter and Michigan Animal Adoption Network, which is centered in Roseville.

MAAN says that more than 10,000 animals die every day, due primarily to kill shelters and the burgeoning over population of domestic animals. Left to their own devices, one male and one female cat alone can produce more than 500 kittens within four years!

Mullen and Sill have additionally adopted seven rescue pets during their years of community animal focus. In fact, they are part of a remarkable tale involving one of those animals through their veterinarian, Dr. Cheryl Good, of Dearborn Family Pet Care.
Good — a premier sponsor of B4AR — initially set them on their mission by steering Mullen and Sill toward Friends for the Dearborn Animal Shelter and other enterprises benefiting animals.

“In 2013, we adopted our dog, Emma, from FFDAS, where she had been treated for the worst case of heart-worm they’d ever seen,” Mullen said. “Although she continued to have preventive medications, Emma still tested positive for heart-worm. But, Dr. Good used an unusual approach by researching the illness and deducing that antibodies were actually creating the false positive.”

That unique conclusion eventually led to a negative result; ongoing evidence supported the conclusion that Emma’s unusual early life played a pivotal role in testing for disease. It’s believed she’d been a roamer in Ohio, rather than even an abandoned family pet. By contrast today, Emma’s a happy family pet and thanks to Good’s innovative approach, she was spared additional tests, medications and suffering.

At 49, both Mullen and Sill now have four cats — the latest adoption is named Oliver Twisted — and three dogs. In their spare time, they operate a premier pro shop, sponsor group bowling clinics that offer expert instruction, and provide private lessons to keglers of all ages and skill levels.

Sill is the first professional female bowler to earn $1 million and served as a Detroit Dream Team Legendary Athlete. She’s matched Mullen’s passion in hosting the annual Bowl-4-Animal Rescue; together, they’ve raised more than $150,000 to-date.

“We are fortunate that our annual event has grown since its inception, and want to continue that trend,” said Mullen. “At our May ‘Yappy Hour,’ the festive kick-off for B4AR, we debuted our newly dedicated website. It was created to focus on being a 3-month, pledge-driven supplement for the actual bowling evening. Anyone can participate in raising pledges — bowler or not — and there are some A-M-A-Z-I-N-G prizes this year that high fundraisers can win.”

Incentives span from a Detroit Tigers’ suite for 26; an 8-course Chef's Tasting meal for six at Coach Insignia atop the Ren Cen; and the SAME meal prize at Novi Chophouse; more Tigers’ tickets including four box seats and a parking pass for a September 24 game and second row from dugout game August 17; to a new bowling ball of choice with a private lesson and bowling fundamentals, and much more.

Last year’s B4AR evening had 175 active participants, although they did not additionally fundraise, says Mullen. By slightly tweaking that number, she says it would provide a huge bump.

“If they each raised just $70 in pledges, we will meet our new goal,” she said. “That’s seven people at $10 each, or 5 people at $15 each — or, just one very generous person! They can ask friends and coworkers, use social media and utilize other tools for that goal.”

Added incentives will be awarded to anyone taking pledges — from money, gift-cards and an exclusive event T-shirt to meal tickets and an entry in a special raffle.

Tweaking their efforts is something at which Mullen is becoming expert. Her release this month of her newest book through publisher Human Kinetics, “Bowling Fundamentals — Second Edition” (accompanied by an illustrated mini e-book, “How to Pick Up Spares”) will also benefit the charities.

Mullen’s donating 10 percent of all sales to MAAN and Dearborn Animal Shelter, and will autograph each copy in the process. She revised about 80 percent of the book’s 10-year-old original content, and gears it to all skill levels and ages. It contains her pro-career anecdotes and advice on the sport’s psychology, as well as insights for the left-handed bowler.

"I’m tying the two timely occasions together and donated 10 percent of all book pre-orders in May to www.bowl4animalrescue.org,” Mullen said. “Nothing delights me more than to bring my two passions together."

Among other career highlights, Mullen is a four-time professional champion and holds distinction as a USBC Gold Coach, 1 of only 30 such instructors who exist worldwide. The revised book and related e-book were “a lot of work, but a very cool project,” per Mullen. “Most bowlers will improve their average on better spare shooting alone."

Meanwhile, individuals or teams can solicit donations, and download a pledge collection form at the website. B4AR is held at Country Lanes in Farmington Hills and can accommodate 192 bowlers, although many more can contribute. Individuals and teams can create personal fundraising pages online, tagging them with pet photos or other creative touches.

To bowl better and help animals in need, order a signed copy of “Bowling Fundamentals — Second Edition” for $19.95 by contacting Mullen at michelle@yourbowlingcoach.com, visiting www.YourBowlingCoach.com or calling Aleta Sill's Bowling World Pro Shop at (248)615-9060. Become a sponsor, donate an auction item or money, or design a fundraising page while taking a proactive approach for a worthy cause.

"The homeless animal problem in southeast Michigan continues to be an epidemic and we want to continue to be a voice,” said Mullen. “We want to do everything we can to alleviate the problem, including reminding potential pet owners to adopt, not shop."

So far this year, funds raised are close to $4,000.

This year’s Bowl-4-Animal-Rescue begins with check-in on August 9th at 5:30 p.m. and runs from 7 to 10 p.m. at Country Lanes, 30250 W. 9 Mile Rd. For more information, call (248) 615-9060.

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