When Jim was recovering from brain surgery, the hospital staff brought in a makeshift bowling alley into his room. It was Good Friday, and Jim and his family made a tradition of going bowling the Friday before Easter. And not one to miss out, pins, bowling balls and a “lane” was created in honor of this tradition, in spite of Jim’s diagnosis of a glioblastoma (GBM). To level the playing field, everyone had to bowl with their left hands and use wheelchairs. That was more than 15 years ago.
Bowling for a Greater Purpose
Each year since, Jim’s family, including his wife, Serena, two sons, daughter and their spouses along with a wide community of relatives and friends, continue Jim’s legacy in a special bowling event.
The Jim Hewitt Good Friday Bowl is a community event with the purpose of supporting brain tumor research and patient services. This event has been part of the ABTA’s Fundraise Your Way program for the last 15 years.
“When Jim was first diagnosis and treated for a stage 5 glioblastoma, the ABTA helped answer our questions through their informative website, or whenever we called the ABTA, we were always provided resources that could help us along this difficult journey,” said Serena.
Tumor Makes a Strike
Jim, a former Vietnam veteran and accountant, was always sharp-witted and keen on details. He came home after work one day and urged his family to go bowling…on Good Friday. He reasoned that if bowling was prohibited on such a day, it would be common knowledge. It wasn’t, and they went.
A few years later, Serena noticed that Jim was no longer himself. He became more disoriented, tired, and started to experience frequent headaches. He would forget details or requests on quick errands.
“I asked Jim to get me cans of tomatoes from the store after work. That night, Jim called me three times asking the same question – what did I need from the store?” said Serena. “That’s when we decided to schedule an appointment for a brain scan.”
Finding a golf ball-sized tumor in his brain, it was early spring when Jim had brain surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Jim became aphasic, limiting his words to “bye-bye”, “Timmy” and “football.” But Jim’s influence and bold personality helped Serena and his kids learn what he was really trying to communicate. Sadly, Jim lost his battle with the GBM in 2003.
Supporting Brain Tumor Research and Remembering Jim
“It was shocking to learn that only one penny on the dollar goes to brain tumor research. Since that moment, we knew we wanted to help the ABTA any way we could,” said Serena.
Fundraising nearly $50,000 for brain tumor research, Serena and her family has seen the bowling event grow from a small, family memorial to an organized community event that brings together an extended network of family, friends, neighbors and colleagues that honor Jim’s memory in a fun, informal setting.
“If we could help fund research for early-career, enterprising scientists and doctors who are looking to find a cure or more effective treatments, it might spare other families what we went through,” said Serena. “That’s why we host the Jim Hewitt Good Friday Bowl each year.”