Stratford teen hosts annual bowling fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House
A 15-year-old from Stratford is giving back in a big way by hosting an annual bowling event in support of the Ronald McDonald House.
Dozens of bowlers stopped by Mike’s Bowling Lanes Sunday to help Jake Sippel reach his goal of raising $7,000 this year.
The cause hits close to home for Sippel, as his family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in London, Ont. when he was three years old. This was following a hot tub malfunction that left him with severe burns to the lower 40 per cent of his body.
“Me, my brother and my dad, we are going into our family hot tub, which was just in our backyard, and my dad had taken off the lid. He turned around to put it down and before he could check the temperature, I had already jumped in,” recalled Sippel. “It had over heated and risen to an unknown temperature, but because my dad didn’t have time to check, we didn’t know.”
After being rushed to Stratford General Hospital, Sippel was taken to the Children’s Hospital in London.
“I was very scared of being all alone in my room at the age of three. Luckily though, the Ronald McDonald House of Southwestern Ontario, which is right beside it, they took my family in," said Sippel. "It was our home away from home.”
Sippel said he knew very early on that he wanted to do something to give back to the organization that helped his family during some of his hardest times. He decided on a bowling fundraiser because it was one of his favourite sports.
“It’s such a social sport. People get up, they get moving a little. You can sit down and talk with friends, talk with family. Even meet some new people if that’s really want you want to do,” said Sippel. “The Ronald McDonald House is all about one big family so I feel like that's what I’m trying to accomplish here.”
Sippel organized and ran his first event at only 11 years old back in 2019. Due to a brief pandemic pause, the fundraiser returned in 2022 and this year.
“For somebody who was only 11 year old, to do this for an organization is just fantastic,” said Joe Shaw, owner of Mike’s Bowling Lanes. “He’s raised so much money during that time. He promotes it, he does all the work himself with the help from his parents who drive him around.”
In the first two years of the fundraiser, over $22,000 was raised with all proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwestern Ontario.
“Last year I kind of wanted to up our goal a little, but we didn’t seem to have the same about of donations and whatnot,” said Sippel. “Last year we got very generous donations so we were able to reach $15,000. This year, $7,000 is definitely accomplishable. That’s what we got our first year and I’m hoping to do it again.”
To add to some extra fun to the usual sport, Sippel created ‘silly bowling’. At random, one of the participants would be selected to take their next turn in an unconventional way such as bowling backwards or through the legs. Those not interested in the potential twist were able to protect themselves with insurance.
“The silly bowling insurance was my idea. We were brainstorming different ways we could make it a little bit more fun and whatnot so we decided silly bowling would be the best way to get it done. At the time same, if you get the insurance you’re just raising money so it’s a win-win,” said Sippel.
Sippel said that he plans to continue the bowling tradition because it bring him so much joy.
“I’m just happy doing it. It’s something that means a lot to me, it means a lot to others and their families," said Sippel. "I’m able to help other families feel as safe and comfortable as I did.”