Here’s what you should know about lawn bowling: all the cool kids are doing it.
At least, they are each Wednesday night throughout the month of July at the Elmdale Lawn Bowling Club, located in a pretty little neighbourhood just south of Hintonburg.
They're taking part in the sold-out Ottawa Lawn Summer Nights, an annual fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis Canada that’s fun, casual, and highly social. There are 41 registered teams this year and organizers are hoping to raise $90,000.
Some 200 people turned out for Wednesday night's big launch. Players took turns rolling their bowls down the smooth grassy surface. It didn't matter if participants were as green as the lawn on which they were playing; volunteers from the club were happy to share pointers.
And, the weather — with its clear skies and balmy temperatures — could not have been better. As the evening wore on, players were bathed in the golden glow of the setting sun.
Greg McEachern has been participating in and raising money for Lawn Summer Nights ever since one of his former colleagues, Meredith Taylor, helped to bring the fundraiser to Ottawa in 2013.
“You know those January nights when it’s really, really bitterly cold in Ottawa and you wonder why you live here? I think about these nights in July, when I’m standing here, with a nice cold drink, with a whole bunch of people that I really like, having some fun,” McEachern, senior vice president of government relations for Proof Strategies, told OBJ.social.
It's tradition for teams to have some fun with their attire, from whimsical summer outfits to wacky costumes. For one team, the choice of polyester athleisure wear could not have been entirely comfortable on such a hot day. "Sometimes, you just have to sweat," replied Rob LeForte in his long-sleeved tracksuit top.
Lawn Summer Nights takes place in cities across Canada, from Vancouver and Victoria, to Calgary, Regina and Winnipeg, to Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Charlottetown. It was founded in 2009.
In Ottawa, the organizing committee is chaired this year by Amanda Ruddy, who has a background in special events with OSEG (Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group) and the National Arts Centre. You might have heard of her Uncle John, as in Trinity Development executive chairman John Ruddy.
The money will support the work that Cystic Fibrosis Canada is doing to fund research and provide supplementary support for CF treatment programs at its clinics and transplant centres.
Ottawa filmmaker Max McGuire was back to speak to the crowd about his own experience of living with cystic fibrosis. He and his team are among the top fundraisers. In recognition of his contributions to CF Canada, McGuire was honoured with the Michelle Breakwell Award by the charitable organization.
McGuire gave everyone the “basic rundown” on the chronic genetic illness. It mainly affects the lungs, along with other organs, and leads to repeated lung infections and, potentially, pneumonia. “Eventually, your lungs fail and you either need a lung transplant or you pass.”
McGuire considers himself one of the lucky ones. When he was born, doctors told his parents that he wouldn’t likely live past the age 13. “I’m 38,” he pointed out. “I have wrinkles.”
A child born today with cystic fibrosis has an average life expectancy of 52. “And that’s because of events like this, and you guys all raising money,” McGuire told the crowd as he encouraged everyone to keep up their fundraising efforts. “The money you raise does matter.”
Lawn Summer Nights continues in Ottawa on July 10th, 17th and 24th.
The public is welcome to come out, network and support the cause by purchasing a $25 ticket, which includes drink and food tickets.