Saturday night, more than 90 family members and friends of Chris and Chelsea Guillen gathered at Circle Lanes for three games of bowling, chased with hors d’oeuvres, drinks, door prizes and a silent auction.
It was the 10th annual Candlelight Bowl and, this year, says Chris Guillen, the fundraiser for an agency that’s helped one of his kids was a really successful one. Guillen, who owns and runs a namesake photography studio on Madison Street, raised more than $4,000 for Oak-Leyden, an agency in Oak Park for people with developmental disabilities.
The Guillens’ idea for such a fundraiser sparked when their youngest son got treatment from Oak-Leyden for a visual impairment. With several of their relatives’ kids going through Oak-Leyden’s early intervention program, too, the Forest Park couple decided this was the thing to do.
“They are the underdogs who always amaze me,” Chris Guillen says of Oak-Leyden.
“This event is simply wonderful. It’s the kind of grassroots support nonprofits need,” Bob Atkinson, president of Oak-Leyden, said Saturday night.
Chelsea Guillen has worked at Oak-Leyden as the developmental director for 13 years and says she’s always seen a deficit, even before the recent and huge cuts in state aid. “It’s important to know that Oak-Leyden needs proper funding to continue giving these children the therapy they need, ” she said. “Our annual event is a small dent in the overall problem.”
In past years, the Guillens have raised anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000. With credit card transactions still being rung through, this year’s total of more than $4,000 is growing. “It was a successful number,” Chris Guillen said.
At the entrance of the bowling ally was a donation box. Next to it showed the price of the materials that Oak-Leyden could use with the money, including art supplies and therapy brushes. “It’s nice to know that our money is actually making a difference,” Chris Guillen said.
“I think it’s awesome what Chris is doing,” said Terri Peterson, whose grandson has cerebral palsy and has been going to Oak-Leyden for more than two years. “Him and his wife believe in the cause so much, and they go above and beyond. Because of the money raised here tonight, my grandson and all the other children can get the best therapy. I am so grateful.”
Susan Klinger, who has been a therapist at Oak-Leyden for six years, was at Circle Lanes with all her fellow therapists. “This is a perfect fundraiser because it’s affordable, so lots of people in the community can come. It’s also great fun.”
Once the bowling was under way, guests let loose and their kid personalities came out. In the third “crazy” game, some even wore 3-D glasses.
Contributors to the silent auction included Chris Guillen’s fellow merchants on Madison Street. There was an ice cream party from Brown Cow, a cigar party from Casas de Puros, a jewelry and private shopping party from DeeDee & Edee, a beaded basket from Moss, a chair from Two Fish Art Glass, and accessories from Team Blonde.