Harvey Bowling Club take on Rolling for Roj, raising funds for Commonwealth Games hopeful Calvin Rodgers

Headshot of Luke McPherson
Luke McPhersonHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Calvin Rodgers gets the ball rolling for the event.
Camera IconCalvin Rodgers gets the ball rolling for the event. Credit: Harvey Bowling Club

The Harvey Bowling Club played host to a touching game of lawn bowls on January 25 and 26, as Anthony Burnham and Sid Hayes rolled from end to end to support their mate Calvin Rodgers.

The pair faced off against one opponent per hour for 24 hours straight to raise money and awareness for the club vice-captain, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in October last year.

“When I got diagnosed with cancer, I wasn’t able to continue with work, so Anthony was more worried about my family support,” Rodgers said.

“My treatment is every fortnight, three days on and 11 days off, so work is not really possible at this stage.”

Anthony Burnham, left, clubmate and good friend to Calvin Rodgers, right, vision-impaired B2 national champion lawn bowler.
Camera IconAnthony Burnham, left, clubmate and good friend to Calvin Rodgers, right, vision-impaired B2 national champion lawn bowler. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

More than $20,000 has been raised from the Rolling for Roj event — including $11,000 through a GoFundMe page — to help with Rodgers’ medical bills and support his wife Shelley and children Lara, 10, and Campbell, 12.

“I’ve only known Calvin for two years, but we had an instant connection and he has always been helpful with mine and my son’s journey into lawn bowls,” organiser Anthony Burnham said.

“When he got his diagnosis I asked what we could do to help . . . and we came up with this.”

Burnham said while it was for a worthy cause, bowling for the club legend, 24 hours of straight play had taken its toll on his 51-year-old body.

“I probably haven’t caught up on sleep as much as I’d like to, the body isn’t letting me,” he said.

“The mind was fine, it was more the body that was more of a struggle.

“Ankles, feet, knees, back, going up and down all the time, the knee I led with was quite sore and is today, and the soles of my feet.

When we play a game of pennant bowls we’ll bowl for 21 ends, but we worked it out that over the 24 hours we bowled 290 ends and walked 34km.

Anthony Burnham

“But it was all worth it, that’s for sure.”

Rodgers — who is remarkably modest given his talent — took a lot of convincing to allow the day to go ahead.

“I’m feeling very much grateful, but at the same time I almost feel not worthy, I’m embarrassed really,” Rodgers said.

“While I feel embarrassed, it will really help.”

I don’t feel any more disadvantaged than lots of other people going through things. We all find ways to manage, and I would have if this didn’t happen, but for this to prop us up a bit it’s huge.

Calvin Rodgers

Burnham said after all the planning that went into the marathon event, it was surreal to see how things came to fruition.

“To walk off the rink yesterday with that many people there cheering us on was mind-blowing,” Burnham said.

“We had to put Calvin to bed at about 4 am because he just didn’t want to miss any of it!”

Calvin Rodgers, Anthony Burnham and Forrest MHR Nola Marino at Rolling for Roj.
Camera IconCalvin Rodgers, Anthony Burnham and Forrest MHR Nola Marino at Rolling for Roj. Credit: Harvey Bowling Club

Rodgers is no stranger to adversity and took up lawn bowling after losing his sight in a car crash in Karratha when he was 21.

Since then, the 42-year-old was named the Sports Star of the Year at the WA Disabled Sports Association annual awards and earned the title of WA Disability Lawn Bowls Champion.

Rodgers was also one of three vision-impaired bowlers set to trial earlier this month on the Gold Coast for a spot in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games team — but those plans have been rescheduled due to COVID.

Rodgers recently participated in the State singles competition in Perth for the first time.

With little expectations as the only vision-impaired bowler in the field of almost 300, Rodgers excelled and made it to the last 16.

“I did that because I could not get over to the Gold Coast for the most recent trials, and I wanted to give the selectors some results,” he said.

“To get that far was out of my wildest dreams, but I am very happy and to beat some good players along the way was sensational.”

Rodgers is hoping to be able to make it to the rescheduled trials on the Gold Coast at the end of February but said his treatment and the current quarantine situation could provide an issue.

The whole squad is set to travel to Birmingham in May for their final trials.

Calvin Rodgers, vision-impaired B2 national champion lawn bowler.
Camera IconCalvin Rodgers, vision-impaired B2 national champion lawn bowler. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

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