PHILADELPHIA -- In an effort to raise awareness and funds to benefit the Rollins Family Foundation and the Arthritis Foundation, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and his wife, Johari, hosted the seventh annual Celebrity BaseBOWL Tournament at Lucky Strike Bowling Lanes in Philadelphia on Thursday.
The event, which raised $181,000 last year, helps send children to Camp JRA (Juveniles Reaching Achievement), a week-long camp for kids ages 8-18 with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. The camp is a place where children "can have fun, learn about their disease and form social bonds with others who share their challenges," according to the Camp JRA website.
Many of Rollins' teammates came out to support the event, where attendees could mingle, get autographs, take pictures and, of course, bowl with their favorite baseball players. The function also featured a silent auction showcasing signed bats, jerseys and other memorabilia.
Rollins, the current longest-tenured athlete in Philadelphia, said the event has come a long way since it started.
"You don't think about arthritis affecting kids under 16. But it does," Rollins said. "It limits them in things they can do. I can't imagine having to wake up on the weekend and not being able to play baseball, because I'm having a flare-up, or playing football or swimming or soccer or whatever it is you want to do ... just being able to get out of the house. Those are things that I didn't have to grow up dealing with, and I think because of this event, at least around here and the teammates of mine, they understand how fortunate we are to be able to do what we do."
Rollins also said being a father has changed his perspective on many things, including conditions like arthritis that affect children. In May, Rollins and his wife welcomed their first child, a girl named Camryn Drew, into the world.
"[When] you hear about people's children having problems of any sort, you do feel for them," Rollins said. "I think it hits home when you can imagine that being your kid. Fortunately, we've been blessed with our daughter with great health. Not everyone gets that, whether it's from arthritis or any other condition."
Each of the celebrity bowlers was given a red-and-white bowling shirt, with the Rollins Family Foundation logo on the back and a nickname on the front. Rollins' shirt, of course, read "J-Roll."
"This is a great event," said Phillies play-by-play broadcaster Tom McCarthy, who was also the emcee. "It's always been very well attended. It's always been very well run. Jimmy's got this electric personality, and I think it comes out with this kind of an event, too."
"It's been a fun event," Phillies ace Roy Halladay said. "He's done a great job with it. Guys enjoy coming to it, and they've done a lot of good in the community with it. It's been great."
The event, after all, consisted of a bowling tournament. So who's the best bowler on the Phillies?
Rollins, who said the Phillies used to bowl a lot in Spring Training, had no problem giving his honest opinion.
Said Rollins with a big smile: "When we had Brett Myers, he was a very competitive bowler. Ryan Howard, just on reputation, I'll still have to say he's one of the top. But none of them beat me."
Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com.