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Bowl-a-thon raises funds for free tutoring
Lathrop City Councilman Omar Ornelas gets high fives after bowling a strike for the City of Lathrop team that was challenging a team from the City of Manteca during the bowl-a-thon. - photo by HIME ROMERO
The sound of bowling balls knocking down pins - and the accompanying laughter- on Saturday was music to Carol Davis’ ears.

The crowded lanes of Manteca Bowl that were turned over at no-cost to Give Every Child a Chance meant they’d be a fairly healthy take in terms of donations to provide free tutoring programs for struggling kids.

But it also meant the dreams of the man who founded GECAC - the late Antone Raymus - were coming true. They were to have the community rally around kids to make a difference in their lives and to provide a wholesome entertainment venue with the bowling alley that he built and opened eight years ago.

Davis, who serves as GECAC executive director, noted turnout was stronger than expected although the economy has definitely taken its toll as pledges are slightly down from last year even with more people participating.

“The support is definitely there with people wanting to participate, and we’re grateful for all of the pledges that they’re able to get, but the economy is affecting everything and we’re feeling it right now,” Davis said. “The enthusiasm of the people here though is amazing, and we’re thrilled that they’re able to help at all.”

The event – one of the largest fundraisers for the organization founded by Raymus as a way to help struggling students by pairing them with volunteer tutors free of charge – helps offset some of the operating costs of what has become one of the largest non-profits operating in the South County today.

The organization helps tutor 4,000 kids in the South County at no charge.

Give Every Child a Chance has expanded into Escalon, Ripon and Lathrop, and continues to serve the schools in the Manteca Unified School District. The non-profit works in a partnership with area school districts to help provide services that couldn’t be fully funded through the districts because of cost-cutting and budget concerns.

And with many of the state and federal grants falling by the wayside after the mortgage meltdown depleted program funding across the board, fundraising and private donations have been a huge source of income for GECAC.

Lathrop Elementary School principal and GECAC board chairman David Silveria expressed his thanks to Marie Raymus for her ongoing support for the event every year it has been held.

“I appreciate what Mrs. Raymus continues to do to help support our students by always making the bowling alley available to GECAC for this fundraiser,” he said. “It’s a chance for our community to come together in an event that raises fun and also is enjoyable for all ages.”

Cheryl Dadasovich came out to watch both of her children participate on a team, and had nothing but good things to say about the event and its impacts for the community.

“This is a great event for Manteca,” Dadasovich said. “I think that it’s going to help a lot of kids, and it’s a good day for everybody who participates. It’s a great sport, and everybody has a lot of fun raising money.”