The Sable Flames, an organization of the Madison Fire Department’s African-American firefighters, are well-known for their biggest fundraiser – the Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit Dance, a giant gala event held in winter to raise money for scholarships. However, after a successful inaugural year, the Sables believe that they have another popular fundraiser on their hands. The 2nd Annual “BOWLieve in Education” event will be held Monday, Sept. 1 at Schwoegler’s Lanes.

“We always have the 2nd Alarm Scholarship Benefit in February, so last year we were trying to find out if we could get a second fundraiser going in the summertime so we came up with the idea to have a nice family event, usually on the last Sunday before everybody goes back to school,” organizer and longtime Sable Flame Doug Johnson tells Madison365.

“We figured that this second fundraiser would be a good chance to get a little more exposure and have an opportunity to raise some more money,” he adds. “It works out that we can have a fundraiser every six months or so – winter event and a summer event.”

At the 1st Annual “BOWLieve in Education,” the Sable Flames and friends – 120 bowlers total – took over 26 bowling lanes at Bowl-a-Vard Lanes and raised over $4,000 for scholarships.

Bowlers at the 1st Annual “BOWLieve in Education”

“It was a big success last year. The Madison Teachers Union came out last year as did a nice group from UW Health. We’re getting groups in the community to come out and support the event so that’s been really nice to see. We had a lot of fun and we also raised some money,” Johnson says. “Because of that success, we figured we’d make it an annual thing. We’re expecting a great crowd again.”

The Sable Flames are taking bowler sign-ups all the way up to the beginning of the event. 

“We’re hoping to take over the whole bowling alley this year,” Johnson smiles. “We’re hoping for an even bigger turnout.”

Who’s the best Sable Flames bowler?

“There’s a few guys who probably think so. I know Brandon Troia is pretty good. He’ll probably try to go for that high score this year,” Johnson says. “I’m not too bad myself; I just don’t bowl as often as I used to. But I think we have a few guys who are pretty good.”

“But we do have a fun time at the event. There’s a table with raffle prizes. We have a grand prize. It’s a fun, family atmosphere. Lisha Hope, with Tales with a big T, comes in with books and you can hang out with the dogs.  There’s food and drink and talking and community and two hours of free bowling.”

Most importantly, “BOWLieve in Education” raises money for scholarships. All proceeds go towards the Jones-Robinson Scholarships that The Sable Flames award annually to low-income students from the Madison area that are attending a college or university. Funds also will go towards the new Richard Garner Memorial Scholarship fund, established in honor of Johnson’s good friend who passed away last year, which will assist fire and EMS students, specifically.

Aisha Tunkara

Earlier this summer, the Sable Flames announced that Aisha Tunkara and Emmanuel Mielke have been selected as 2019 Jones-Robinson Scholarship recipients.

“One hundred percent of all the money raised from all of our fundraisers go directly to the scholarship fund. We just gave out two to Aisha Tunkara and Emmanuel Mielke, two very good candidates. Emmanuel is going into fire protection over at Madison College and Aisha will be going to Notre Dame.

“That’s what it’s all about. Any fundraiser that we do goes toward the scholarship fund,” he adds. “As long as we keep getting a big turnout, we can keep getting bigger and better and raise more money for scholarships.”


Anybody who wants to volunteer, sponsor, or support the 2nd Annual “Bowlieve in Education,” can click here.