GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Michigan has the 11th highest veteran population in the United States. More than 600,000 veterans live in Michigan cities and towns. On Friday one group is holding an event to give back to those in Grand Rapids who have served our country.
The event is asking everyone to “spare” a little free time so they can improve the recreational activity at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, so it doesn’t end up in the “gutter.”
The idea is simple: you go to Wenger’s on Leonard Street and pay $15 for unlimited bowling and shoes during the Strikes and Stripes event. One hundred percent of the profits go to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.
“This is our way of giving back to the community,” said Vietnam veteran Henry Vandam.
Bowling is a favorite for Vandam. “It’s camaraderie amongst people. People like to bowl,” he said.
Vandam is used to bowling strikes despite missing four fingers he lost while serving on a nuclear submarine in the 1970s. “I’ve done my time, so people can have the opportunity to get the things that they need,” said Vandam about serving his country.
“When you bump into somebody there’s always a war story to tell,” he said.
To ease the pain of war stories, he says veterans should also be having fun.
Now he wants to give back to his brothers and sisters who also served.
“There are just some of these veterans that just don’t have much.”
Vandam talked to his buddy Kyle Brethauer to see how they could give back to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.
“We originally started as a clothing event, and then we had talked a little bit with them and found out they had a bowling alley there, which I didn’t know before this,” said Brethauer.
Vandam says the small bowling alley is run down with little equipment. From there, they invented the event Stripes and Strikes.
The event takes place on Friday at Wenger’s from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.. They have already raised the money for six bowling balls through donations, and they are hoping to at least raise money to purchase six more.