RENO, Nev. - Former University of Nevada-Reno football star Dontay Moch is working hard to make a name for himself in the National Football League as a linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals.
This weekend, Moch turned his attention away from the gridiron to hit the lanes at the National Bowling Stadium for the Strikes 4 Kids "Reno Charity Weekend" presented by the Peppermill Resort Spa & Casino. He was joined by some of his former Wolf Pack teammates and fellow NFL players.
The 2009 Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year was joined at the NBS on Saturday by former Wolf Pack teammates James-Michael Johnson, Virgil Green, Brandon Marshall, Ezra Butler, Kaelin Burnett, Jonathon Amaya, Kevin Basped and Trey Session for the bowling portion of the weekend, which sold out and attracted more than 300 bowlers and guests to the one-of-a-kind venue.
Participants bowled three games, had the chance to win raffle prizes, mingled and took photos with Moch and his teammates. Through admission fees, sponsorship and donations, the event is expected to generate more than $8,000.
"You know, it's great to give back to the community I grew up in," said Moch, a 24-year-old right-hander who was a third-round pick of the Bengals in the 2011 NFL Draft. "I've always wanted to be able to do something like this in my life, and to start it up like this, with a great event on our first try, we'll have to keep it going."
The weekend's festivities, which also include a poker tournament Sunday, mark the first Strikes 4 Kids charity weekend held in Reno. The organization has hosted bowling events, comedy shows, charity dinners and other fundraisers throughout Northern California. Strikes 4 Kids specializes in partnering professional athletes with non-profit organizations that benefit children in the community.
Sunday's poker tournament at the Peppermill is expected to draw nearly 140 participants.
"Dontay Moch and I had talked about doing an event that really helped impact the Reno community," said Joe Allen, the founder and CEO of Strikes 4 Kids. "We wanted to get everyone involved and give them the opportunity to mingle, so we decided that bowling and poker would be a great idea. It allows the people who came out to talk and get autographs, and the players are able to give back to the people that supported them throughout the years. It's been a great response and weekend. It's been beyond belief."
The money raised from the weekend will be used to fulfill the Make-A-Wish Foundation's mission in the Northern Nevada area, which covers a total of 13 counties. Since its inception, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northern Nevada has granted more than 700 wishes to local children. Nationally, the Foundation has granted the wishes of more than 200,000 children with life threatening medical conditions.
The Strikes 4 Kids event is just one of many bowling events scheduled for The Biggest Little City in the World in the coming months.
The 2013 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships will be held on the main lanes at the NBS from March 1 through July 7. The venue also will be home to the Storm Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC, the 900 Global Two-Game Challenge and Who's Got the Look Baker Bonanza presented by 900 Global. From April 12 until July 1, the USBC Women's Championships will be contested on 44 specially-constructed lanes inside the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.
The upcoming Open Championships will be preceded by the Special Olympics National Unified Tournament, which will be held in conjunction with the Open Championships for the 23rd consecutive year.