Brandon Balsis hosts the eighth annual Strike Down Diabetes fundraiser June 14 at Orland Bowl in Orland Park. | Supplied photo
If you go ...
What: Brandon’s 8th Annual Strike Down Diabetes
Cosmic Bowling Fundraiser
Where: Orland Bowl, 8601 W. 159th St., Orland Park
When: June 14; raffles open at 7:30 p.m. Cosmic bowl
from 8 p.m. to midnight
Etc.: Tickets are $35 per person or $175 for a lane for six
Information/tickets: Contact Denise Balsis at (815) 464-9123,
email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Strikedown Diabetes
page on Facebook.
Updated: July 4, 2014 6:03AM
Tinley Park resident Brandon Balsis wants nothing more than to see the day when no child has to face a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.
“Our biggest thing is, hopefully, Type 1 is ‘Type none’ someday.” Balsis said.
Balsis, 35, faced the daunting diagnosis as a 14-year-old freshman at Andrew High School, and although he tried to keep the autoimmune disease from changing his life, Balsis said, “By no means is it easy to deal with.
“It’s very hard to give up some of the (foods) you see other kids with,” Balsis said. “You have to be disciplined. As long as you keep your head down, everything works itself out.”
Balsis said he and his family wanted to “keep the awareness up” on a local level and support the global JDRF — formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation — which funds research for a cure for Type 1 diabetes.
As a former professional bowler, Balsis tapped into his passion, spearheading “Brandon’s Annual Strike Down Diabetes Cosmic Bowling Fundraiser.”
The eighth annual event will be held June 14 at Orland Bowl, 8601 W. 159th St. in Orland Park, featuring cosmic bowling from 8 p.m. to midnight, a buffet meal, silent auction and raffles.
“It was something we wanted to do to get everybody involved for the kids, to get them out there,” Balsis said.
The fundraiser will have raffle tables for both children and adults.
Raffle prizes include cash, Chicago hotel packages and a House of Blues package.
Balsis said the family-friendly event has hosted as many as 150 guests of all ages, often bringing families with newly diagnosed children together with adults who have been successfully living for years with Type 1 diabetes.
Balsis said many of the families are concerned about what their child has to face and fearful of how it is going to affect all of them.
“It’s scary, not only for the child but for the parents,” Balsis said. “For (families) to be able to come to this and to see someone who, at an early age was diagnosed and was able to go on to bowl professionally (and) live just a completely normal life — to be able to put that out there and give them that support system and see how that helps them — is one of the main things that drives us.”
The Balsis family is all in. Balsis has the support of his wife Amanda, and his cousin Cameron Crummie, who also was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a teenager.
“She is an integral part of the (fundraising) team,” Balsis said.
Balsis’ parents, Bill and Denise Balsis, will volunteer at the JDRF Walk for a Cure scheduled to be held Oct. 5 at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills. Balsis already has created a “virtual walk team” on the JDRF website, www.jdrf.org.
Until then, Balsis is hoping for a record turnout for his local event.
“It’s been well-received ... but I wouldn’t say as much as I would have wanted,” Balsis said.
He said Orland Bowl can accommodate up to 300 people, twice the number as the highest attendance at “Strike Down” to date.
“I would love to fill the house,” Balsis said. “I would eventually like to hit $50,000. If I can make that happen it would be great, but it’s not just to put a number on it. We just want to raise as much as we can to help find a cure someday.”