Cal Poly Mustang Lanes will host the 31st Annual Strike Out Stigma Bowl-a-Thon March 11 to raise funds for SLO Hotline and other Transitions — Mental Health Associations (TMHA) programs.
SLO Hotline is a suicide prevention and mental health crisis phone number which TMHA took over in 2010. Approximately 1,400 people use the line in an emergency annually.
TMHA Marketing and Outreach Coordinator Shannon McOuat said a wide spectrum of mental health disorders exists in a college community, so it is important Cal Poly students know about both the hotline and other TMHA programs.
“Depression is certainly a major factor for many college students,” McOuat said. “Suicide is the second leading cause of death on college campuses, and our hope is to educate Cal Poly students about that.”
The Bowl-a-Thon acts as both a fundraiser and a means to increase awareness of TMHA and SLO Hotline. This year’s event is the first time it will be held at Mustang Lanes since TMHA inherited the hotline. The TMHA staff is reaching out to the university to make sure that students are aware of their existence.
“I am ecstatic that we’re at Cal Poly,” McOuat said. “We want to be a part of that campus community. A lot of students are asking about mental health. We feel it’s really important to have a presence at Cal Poly, and the Bowl-a-Thon is another way to have a presence and hopefully another way for students to give back.”
Graphic communication senior Patrick Sparks said he’s happy to see Cal Poly contribute to a great cause and hopes the students find ways to get involved with this event that he said is important to college students.
“It’s great that SLO Hotline gets involved with the community while providing a crucial service,” Sparks said. “It’s definitely cool that Cal Poly is willing to host this event.”
SLO Hotline has relied on contributions from the Bowl-a-Thon since it lost its funding after 2009, which prompted TMHA to inherit the hotline the following year. The event’s promotional coordinator Lesta Travis said while TMHA receives some funding from various federal and state grants, SLO Hotline depends on the Bowl-a-Thon.
“(Bowl-a-Thon) is crucial, it completely funds the hotline and will keep it going for another year,” Travis said. “The Bowl-a-Thon is its lifeline.”
In addition to Sunday’s event at Mustang Lanes, Bowl-a-Thons will be held at Pismo Bowl in Pismo Beach on March 9, 16, 18, 23, 24 and 25; Rancho Bowl in Santa Maria on March 10; and Paso Bowl in Paso Robles on March 17.
Bowlers will form teams of five, with a minimum pledge of $500 per team ($100 per bowler). Each team will play two games. Shoes and a meal are provided, and every bowler is eligible to win a prize. Additional prizes can be won from entering a raffle.
TMHA is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with mental illness transition into society through providing housing and employment, and teaching life-skills such as building a résumé and using public transportation. It reaches more than 2,000 people and 1,500 familes in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties annually.
SLO Hotline’s phone number is 1-800-549-4499, and is open 24/7, available for emergency and non-emergency inquiries.