11,318 Acts of Love

Written by Steve Richter


“What is: April 26, 2014”

Some day in the future that will be my answer to the question “When was the last time you cried?

That was the day of our 2nd Annual ELITE Pro Shop VIP Tournament and charity event to benefit Rainbow Kids of Sheboygan County.

And the reason I cried is I witnessed 11,318 acts of unselfish love from 100 amazing people.

In 2013 we began a special event that was intended to be a lot of fun, but wrapped inside of it was a charity I wrote about on this blog last year.

So while I was bugged repeatedly last summer to do the event again in 2014, I knew I wouldn’t put in the hard work unless we could go bigger than last year.

I set a personal goal to bump the $4,000 we made last year to $6,000 with a stretch goal of $8,000 with the addition of some awesome silent auction items.

Around 12:30am when Jenni told me that she counted, verified, counted again, had someone else count to verify her verification, the number was $11,318!

The last time I cried.

Knowing you have a hand in helping kids and families in their greatest time of despair is enough to make anyone get a little gooey.

But for me, knowing that 100 friends answered my call and came to support something I’m passionate about says more about the quality, integrity and spirit of the people close to me than the fact that they showed up at my bowling center for a tournament.

I realized in that moment that God has blessed me in ways I can’t even dream about.  That realization is what made me cry; not what we raised, but the love we shared together for people we won’t even know who will go through the Rainbow Kids program.

What many don’t know is there were so many private donators who couldn’t make the event but supported my vision for helping Rainbow Kids to the tune of over $1,800.

Then there were those who ran down prizes to give away or even high dollar value items for our mega-successful silent auction.

Lastly there are those who helped promote the event to get friends and family to stop out.

But there is no way I could have imagined breaking last year’s number unless I didn’t go out and get some corporate help to the cause.

Many of you know of my affiliation with Storm Products, Inc as a marketing consultant.  When I was in Utah last October I made a sales pitch to Bill and Barbara Chrisman on why this would be a great event to partner with us on.  They graciously accepted without hesitation.

To all of you who ask me “why do you only sell Storm and Roto Grip products in your pro shop?” there should be no clearer example.

Not only do they make great products, but they are great people who care about helping others.  For as driven as Bill and Barb are, they really have a genuine, caring, down-to-earth, loving attitude when it comes to helping others help themselves.

I don’t even consider them my bosses – they’re family.

While I was in Utah I met up with Jim Becker of EPIC Creative.  As the name suggests EPIC does the creative work on the Storm and Roto Grip brands that you see on their web site, social media, print ad’s video, etc..  The cool thing is EPIC is right in our back yard in West Bend.

And as their relationship has grown with Storm, so has mine with them – so much so they are now trusting in me to do their pro shop services.

When I asked Jim to be part of the bowling event he never hesitated and said yes immediately.  When I asked him to contribute to the corporate sponsorship, he essentially gave me a blank check and told me to tell him how much we needed.

True friendships that transcend business relationships!

Truth be told, I would never ask my friends to contribute to a charity I do not personally also support – that donation was also made that evening.

I could never have pulled off this surreal event had it not been for the encouragement and assistance of Jenni Stein.  I never had to ask her to take care of something while I ran the tournament; she just jumped in and did what needed to get done.  Even when I fried, she shook it off and never took it personal.

You are truly the best …… I love you!! 

We would have never had an opportunity to raise as much money as we did for our charity had it not been for those who ran down prizes for use to give away, raffle or auction off.

I’d like to acknowledge Matt Martin, Leanne Hulsenberg, Chris Schlemer, Beth Blanck, Sandy Cashman, Tim Firgens, Todd Schaetzer, John Kraintz, Del Ballard, Paul Gloede, Whittney Brockway, Shawn Theune, Terri Howery, Joan Schanke and Aaron Cleveland for all their hard work making this possible.

I cannot forget the Storm Staff of Champions who came out to support my event and made for a great time for our guests to hang out and bowl alongside industry celebrities.  Thank you Chris Sand, Hank Boomershine, Lindsay Boomershine, Jeff Richgels and Gail Myers, Jr – I hope you’ll do me the honor again in the future.

Thank you also to Terri and Suzie for pitching in helping Jenni and I during the event.

In closing, as exhausting as the event was it was incredibly satisfying to see hard work go to such a worthy cause.  The funny thing is at 2:15am with the first beer in my hand at home, the girls were already talking about how we were going to do $20,000 next year.

Time to start planning again.


To read about this year’s tournament event can be found at this blog posted this week.

To contribute a tax-deductible donation to Rainbow Kids, contact me at eliteproshop@gmail.com to learn how.