BY ROSIE CREWS
It took more than five months and five million steps, but the journey is over for Texas bowling proprietor David “Kilroy” Kellerman, who has completed the 2,192-mile hike through the Appalachian Trail to raise funds and awareness for BVL (Bowlers To Veterans Link).
Kellerman, who finished his 160-day solo trek last week, has inspired more than $71,000 in BVL donations to date. “Five million steps to completely hike the Appalachian Trail is nothing compared to the sacrifices our veterans made to protect our freedoms,” said Kellerman, who plans to return to work this week at Mel’s Lone Star Lanes in Georgetown, Texas, the bowling center he co-owns with his sister Dot Ammons.
“My Appalachian Trail adventure would never have happened if not for the freedoms given to me as a United States citizen. My freedoms are not free thanks to the great men and women who are serving or have served in our military. I dedicated my hike to them by raising funds for the bowling industry’s oldest and own charity – the Bowlers to Veterans Link.”
Kellerman credits “all the support and prayers from the bowling industry family” with helping him to power through and complete the Appalachian Trail thru-hike. “I hope my adventure increased the awareness of BVL and that more centers will become involved in raising funds for our charity.”
Since 1942, BVL has provided more than $52 million in grants to VA hospitals and clinics to fund recreation therapy and programs for America’s veterans and active duty service members. BVL is bowling’s oldest and own charity, a national nonprofit 501 (c) (3) charity that is consistently acknowledged for efficient and effective programming delivered with extremely low overhead. BVL has been recognized as one of “America’s Best Charities” by Independent Charities of America, earned a “Top-Rated” Nonprofit distinction from GreatNonprofits, and is also a member of the Combined Federal Campaign (#93325).
“The personal sacrifice that David has made to be away from his family and business for more than five months to raise funds for BVL is one of the most selfless things anyone has ever done for our organization,” said BVL Board Chair John LaSpina. “David believes in BVL’s mission to brighten veterans’ lives through recreation therapy programs and services, and his contribution will make a significant impact for many of our veterans.
“We are so grateful to everyone who has donated so far in support of David’s hike and BVL, and we hope others who are inspired by his incredible journey will continue to give what they can to help BVL continue to be there for our veterans.”
After surpassing his original goal of $50,000 during Bowl Expo, Kellerman upped the target to $75,000. Kellerman, who self-funded the trip to ensure the maximum benefit of his fundraising efforts for veterans programs, is hoping to clear the updated fundraising target at the two upcoming meet-and-greet special events over the next month. He is scheduled to talk about his adventure and support of BVL at “Koffee with Kilroy” at Mel’s Lone Star Lanes on September 24, and “Kocktails with Kilroy” at the Southwest Bowling Proprietors Trade Show on October 7 in Irving, Texas.