The Bowlers to Veterans Link (BVL) is a national nonprofit charitable organization which raises about $1 million annually to fund a variety of recreational equipment and therapeutic supplies for America’s veterans.
BVL’s reach is wide and deep:
- Through BVL, veterans recuperating in all 172 VA hospitals are provided with reading materials, arts and crafts kits or access to recreational music or sports activities to help them pass the time and, studies show, speed their recovery.
- For the many Vietnam and Desert Storm Vets affected with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, BVL supports group recreational activities such as trips to ball games, bowling outings and much more at the nation’s 206 Veterans Outreach Centers.
- A growing number of our World War II veterans in their later years are suffering the often-lonely days of long-term care. Thanks to BVL, these forgotten heroes can enjoy billiards, cards and bingo or even spend their days fishing, bowling or gardening through programs at State Veteran Homes throughout the country.
To achieve this goal of reaching out to every veteran in need, BVL provides cash grants to VA Hospitals, Vet Centers and State Homes as well as coordinates several national programs. These programs include tours of the nationally acclaimed song and dance troupe “Re-Creation” at VA facilities across the country, traveling bowling clinics with a focus on special adaptive bowling techniques for disabled veterans, and a national VA Bowling Tournament held annually. Additionally, BVL has been a long time sponsor of the four major veterans recreation events each year – the Golden Age Games, the Winter Sports Clinic, the Creative Arts Festival and the Wheelchair Games.
Since 1949, the California BVL fund has donated over $9.7 million dollars to our veterans. With donations to California Military Hospitals, VA Medical Centers, Outreach Centers and California Veterans Homes we have provided items for rehabilitation therapy, recreation items, Outbound programs and items to enhance the environment. Many of these items never make the government priority lists and, for bowlers, BVL – The California Bowlers BVL Fund, has become a mission. The California USBC Association THANKS all of you on behalf of the Veterans of California.
The California USBC Association administers the California Bowlers BVL Fund. Any expenses are paid out of interest earned and with the exception of the annual gift to the National BVL Fund, 100% of the donated funds go to our California facilities.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CALIFORNIA BOWLERS BVL FUND
During World War II, the “Wings of Mercy” program was organized when all segments of the bowling family united in an effort to make life more bearable for the US service personnel overseas. The national goal was to support service-oriented groups such as the USO and to encourage war bonds sales as well as provide recreational and ambulance equipment. The combination of these efforts was that the bowlers of the nation donated mobile canteens, an A-2 Bomber and three Douglas C-47 Air Evacuation planes use to transport the wounded from the battle fronts. As the hostilities eased, the objectives changed and the focus was on helping hospitalized veterans. Fundraising efforts continued but not with the same intensity as during the war years.
Known for its contribution of many progressive ideas in the bowling world, the California Women’s Bowling Association (CWBA) felt this was a worthwhile program and should continue to help hospitalized veterans. In 1950, California WBA President Elva Stevens revamped the California State Singles Classic tournament into a Veterans Benefit program. The monies collected were to go to the Veterans Hospitals alternating north and south each year. The aim was to provide those items not provided by the government. As new chairman took over the leadership of the program, new ideas were added and the BVL program grew from a first humble donation to $739.
The program was first known as the “Bowlers Victory Legion”, but was changed in 1972 to the BVL fund. Thus, the familiar letters, BVL were retained. In California, the program is known as the California Bowlers BVL Fund. We are so proud of the efforts of California bowlers in keeping this program alive and well. For many years California has raised more money than any other state and still out distances its closest rival for the “most funds raised” (with exception to 2020-21 where California was shut down due to COVID-19 and all centers were closed).
Currently, the Bowlers to Veterans Link (BVL) is a national non-profit charitable organization which raises about $1 million annually to find a variety of recreational equipment and therapeutic supplies for Americans veterans.
California BVL Re-names tournament after
USBC Legendary Hall of Famer
Helen Duval (1916-2010)
“Helen was a very talented bowler and she touched so many people’s lives through her work with the Bowlers to Veterans Link and her years of coaching youth bowlers in California,” said USBC President Darlene Baker, who also chairs the BVL board. “She was a tremendous ambassador for the sport and will be greatly missed.”
She did extensive work with the BVL, the nonprofit group that provides programs to veteran and active duty service men and women. For more than 20 years she went to veterans hospitals across the country to teach the sport. The BVL named her honorary co-chair in 1985 and in 2000 she received the Secretary’s Award, the highest award given by the Department of Veterans Affairs, for her unwavering commitment to America’s veterans.