Harvey Bowling Club’s Anthony Burnham to bowl for 24-hours straight in support of Calvin Rodgers

Samantha RogersThe West Australian
Calvin Rodgers (left), vision impaired B2 National Champion Lawn Bowler with club mate and good friend Anthony Burnham.
Camera IconCalvin Rodgers (left), vision impaired B2 National Champion Lawn Bowler with club mate and good friend Anthony Burnham. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

24 hours. That’s how long Harvey Bowling Club’s Anthony Burnham will be out on the green to raise money for great mate and fellow clubman Calvin Rodgers - who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

A man all too familiar with adversity, Rodgers took up lawn bowling after losing his sight in a car crash in Karratha when he was just 21.

A keen sportsman, he was told he would no longer be able to play contact sports and found a new hobby - and community - after visiting his local bowls club in Harvey.

Rodgers realised he was “reasonable at it” and now, at 42, is dominating the sport in the B2 Already classification - which caters for athletes with less than 10% vision.

 Calvin Rodgers.
Camera Icon Calvin Rodgers. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

Already Harvey’s vision-impaired vice captain, Rodgers 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.

He is also among the final three Australian men’s singles hopefuls vying to compete in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham .

But as Rodgers rolled within inches of a chance to represent his country on the big stage, the jack was knocked away again.

Rodgers was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer in October last year, while further testing revealed it had also spread to his liver.

“That was a big shock,” Rodgers told The West Australian. “But I guess I was built with some sort of resilience or some sort on knack to accept things early enough and move on and not to dwell on with adversity.”

 Calvin Rodgers.
Camera Icon Calvin Rodgers. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

He is undergoing intense chemotherapy for three days every fortnight and is unable to continue work as a massage therapist as a result of his diagnosis.

That’s where good mate and Burnham stepped in.

The 51-year-old and fellow clubman Sid Hayes will be rolling up for 24-hours straight at Harvey Bowling Club on January 25 and 26 to raise funds for Rodgers’ medical bills, as well as to support his young family - wife Shelley and kids Lara, 10 and Campbell, 12.

Ever humble, Rodgers was at first hesitant to accept help from his community, with Burnham saying one word came to mind on his friend’s initial response: “No.”

Rodgers reluctantly agreed after Burnham convinced him the event could be a vehicle for change for other bowling clubs or community groups, where members might throw their arms around each-other by launching their own fundraisers.

Calvin Rodgers (right), vision impaired B2 National Champion Lawn Bowler with Club mate and good friend Anthony Burnham (left).
Camera IconCalvin Rodgers (right), vision impaired B2 National Champion Lawn Bowler with Club mate and good friend Anthony Burnham (left). Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

“As much as I wanted to do it for Calvin and Calvin didn’t want it done for him, we’re still achieving it but it’s not all about him - and I think that’s what sits more comfortably with him,” Burnham said.

“The most important thing for Calvin is that whilst this is a fundraiser for him, it’s also a display of what can be done at a club or in the community to assist those in need.”

The 24-hour roll up will kick off at 1pm on January 25, with Burnham facing some of the best lawn bowlers from around the state throughout the day and night, before hopefully lining up next to Rodgers and his loved ones for the final roll.

Asked who he thinks will win that match up: Burnham joked: “After 23 hours of bowling, I’d hope Calvin.”

The Rolling for Roj (Rodgers) GoFundMe has already raised more than $5000, to donate head to the GoFundMe page.

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