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Grab four family members, neighbors, friends or co-workers. Write a check and/or collect pledges from other folks.

Then prepare for a rollicking hour or so on Saturday at the 13th annual Bowl for Jason’s Friends fundraiser, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., at El Mark-O Lanes.

Each team of five bowls at an assigned time for about an hour at some point throughout the day. There are oodles of door prizes and contests, free food for participants, and you don’t need to be ready for the pro bowling tour. All that’s necessary is a desire to help those who are really in need at a really desperate time in their lives.

This is the kind of fundraiser that shouldn’t have to happen. But Rocky and Lisa Eades know all too well what can happen to a family who has a child with a brain or spinal cord tumor, or any other type of childhood cancer, who lives anywhere in Wyoming.

Jason’s Friends Foundation is named for their son, Jason Eades, who died at age 9 in November 1995. All proceeds from the Saturday bowling marathon, except for the salary of one part-time paid staff member, go to the foundation they started shortly after the loss of their precious son. And all of those proceeds go directly to families in need.

Some 15 years later, the foundation remains a small but effective nonprofit. It provided more than $400,000 to 70 families with sick children ages birth to 21 in 2010, for things like mortgage payments and utilities, travel expenses to medical appointments, and other crucial costs for survival.

“Really, we cover it all, except for direct medical expenses,” Lisa Eades said this week.

Free T-shirts will be awarded to each bowler gathering $75 or more in donations, with special adult and youth prizes for the most donations collected.

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Community News editor Sally Ann Shurmur can be reached  at (307) 266-0520; sallyann.shurmur@trib.com; read her blog at trib.com/dishin; or follow her on Twitter @WYOSAS

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