Bowling for the Battle teams up with Casey O’Brien

Published 5:01 pm Wednesday, March 10, 2021

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Having to cancel their annual fundraiser hasn’t held Bowling for the Battle back from continuing to raise funds for prostate cancer research at The Hormel Institute. 

On Feb. 6, the Bowling for the Battle Facebook page opened bidding on a signed Casey O’Brien Minnesota Gopher football jersey, with O’Brien signing the jersey after the auction ended so it could be personalized for the winner. O’Brien even recorded a video for Bowling for the Battle to post on Facebook encouraging people to support Bowling for the Battle and cancer research. 

Jeremy Olson, , from left, Tom Gillard, and Casey O’Brien pose with jersey signed by O’Brien. O’Brien is a five-time cancer survivor and walk-on placeholder for the MN Gopher football team. Photo provided

O’Brien, a five-time cancer survivor and walk-on placeholder for the MN Gopher football team, was first diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, at age 13. He has continued pushing toward his goal of playing college football ever since and was awarded the Disney Spirit Award as college’s most inspirational player in 2019. 

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Tom and Doreen Gillard and Laura and Jason Maschka travelled with jersey auction winner Jeremy Olson up to meet O’Brien Tuesday night and see him sign the jersey. Olson won the jersey with a bid of $1,401, but surprised Tom Gillard by gifting the jersey to him. 

Bowling for the Battle is an annual prostate cancer fundraiser organized by the Gillards, Maschkas, and close friends of the family. In previous years, the event has included a bowling tournament, silent and live auctions, and much more crammed into one big party at Echo Lanes on the first Saturday in March. 

“We all do what we can to make a difference in life, but we walked away last night with the drive to do more,” said Laura Maschka, daughter of Tom and Doreen Gillard, who founded the prostate cancer fund at The Hormel Institute.  

Bowling for the Battle has raised over $292,000 for prostate cancer research at The Hormel Institute. This support has funded 5 prostate cancer seed grants, small grants that allow researchers at The Hormel Institute to explore new ideas to beat cancer. Two of these seed grants have turned into nationally funded research projects – one used data from the seed grant to earn a $1 million grant, the other a $2 million grant.

It’s not too late to donate. The Bowling for the Battle Facebook page just posted about additional auction items, like a Tito’s Vodka signed guitar and a giant juice press, that are available for bids.

Additional auction items are available on the Bowling for the Battle Facebook page though Sunday at