Rollin’ Clean Games Since ’02
This year, we are celebrating 32 years of our annual Bowl-A-Thon fundraiser on March 16. Of those 32 years, Joe Parker has been participating in 21 of them. Joe is one of Reach’s longest Bowl-A-Thon participants and has raised the most money for a single Bowl-A-Thon (2023) and is the current leader for the most money raised collectively year after year by a Bowl-A-Thon participant. In 2023, Joe raised $2,129 and over a lifetime he’s raised nearly $20,000. What’s Joe’s secret to successful fundraising and why does he love the Bowl-A-Thon so much? We sat down with Joe to learn more!
Since he was young, Joe had been participating in Reach’s Adaptive Recreation programs, specifically the bowling leagues, for many years. When he heard about the Bowl-A-Thon, he knew he needed to participate in it. Joe participated in his first Bowl-A-Thon in 2002. From that first year, he was hooked! Joe said, “I enjoy the Bowl-A-Thon a lot because it keeps me active and it’s lots of fun. I get to meet new friends, there’s free food and good prizes.” In addition, Joe likes to challenge himself every year to raise more money than the previous year – which he’s done nearly every year since first participating.
So what’s Joe’s secret to successful fundraising? Personality, good communication and knowing a lot of people. Joe is confident, outgoing and talkative with the ability to strike up a conversation with anyone. Joe said, “I start early with fundraising. I reach out to my coworkers, family and friends and communicate all the information to them.” Over the 21 years, Joe has perfected his craft. What advice would he give to someone fundraising for the first time? Joe says, “It’s important to start early. There are more opportunities when you start early. And make sure to ask everyone you know.” Great advice!
Joe’s success at the Bowl-A-Thon carries over into other parts of his life. For over 15 years, Joe has been working for a law firm in downtown Minneapolis and loves it. “They want to keep me till I retire. I tell them jokes and they really like my jokes.” Outside of work, Joe has also found success in Special Olympics. The two main sports he participates in are Bocce and Bowling. In 2014, Joe brought home two bronze medals and one silver medal for Bocce at Special Olympics USA and in 2022 won a gold medal in Bocce singles, a silver for doubles and a bronze for team. In 2026, Special Olympics USA will be held in Minnesota and Joe is looking forward to either participating or volunteering at the games with his dad.
We have no doubt that Joe will continue to achieve great success on and off the bowling lane. Thank you Joe for being one of our longest Bowl-A-Thon participants and for all the money you’ve raised! We are looking forward to seeing Joe and all
the bowlers at this year’s Bowl-A-Thon on March 16.