For the past 15 years, Joe Janusz has been a great advocate for Peoria bowlers, leading them through the merger with the women's association into the new Peoria River City Association.
He was on the Greater Peoria Bowling Association board for 15 years, the final four as its president. Janusz also was elected as the first president of the PRCA.
But the 49-year-old has had to step back from his responsibilities with the group — and from his job —to take care of some health issues. Since late October, Janusz has been at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, waiting to get on the heart transplant list.
Janusz, who had his first open heart surgery in 2003, said he heart has an ejection rate of below 10. "Normal folks are in the 50s and 60s," he said. "So a tenth of my heart is working, basically."
He is waiting for a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) to be implanted to assist his heart, so he can resume somewhat of a normal lifestyle while waiting for a new heart.
"They've put in a balloon pump to help the heart work a little better until I can get an LVAD," Janusz said. "I'm hoping to get that in the next two weeks, and then I will go onto the 1A status on the transplant list."
While Janusz has been in the hospital, his family has incurred some unexpected expenses traveling back and forth to Chicago.
"My wife, Lisa, is trying to work and balance this together while we have all this down time in the hospital," Janusz said. "My daughter is trying to complete her schooling for nursing while I'm in here as well."
Safari Bowl in Morton will host a benefit at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20, to help the Janusz family.
"I can't speak enough of our bowling community," he said. "I've always said that our community of bowling folks is just amazing when things happens. It affects not just that person, so everybody tries to help the family of anyone that is in need.
"You can sit here and be sorry about everything, and say, 'Woe is me.' But there are still people out there that are in worse shape than I am. You can't appreciate enough your friends or your family, and all the things that you do have."
NEW LEADERS: For the first time this season, a team other than Safari Bowl is leading the Bill Mastronardi/Bud Light Masters league.
Safari was the wire-to-wire leader and won the first half of the traveling league. But Mt. Hawley Bowl opened the second half on Monday at Sunset Lanes in Pekin with a 40-10 win over Plaza Lanes.
Tony Wysinger led Mount Hawley with a 788 set, closing with back-to-back 279. Ryan Driskill added 751 and Jon Davis, who opened with a 300, a 739.
Vince Pollard had the high set of the night at 790 on games of 279, 236 and 275 to help Maxxx Revs Pro Shop to a 34-16 win over Linn Lanes.
TEAM EFFORT: In the Goodtimers senior league at Sunset Lanes, our Sunset Strikers team rolled a league-high 2,802 series on team games of 946, 962 and 894. To put it in perspective, the total pinfall would have beaten 10 of the 12 Masters teams at Sunset, and our team would have won 29 of the 36 team games.
Mike Craig led the way with a 751, Cary Woll added 719 and Mike Jones a 689. I was just along for the ride with a 643. And we had a great match against some good friends, Eva and Donnie Davis, and Jerry and Mary Ann Milam.
We won the first game by more than 300 pins, but won Game 2 by four pins and Game 3 by five.
Eva Davis had to show of with her new Columbia 300 bowling ball and closed out with games of 191 and 202. Mary Ann Milam also was over average her last two games with 176 and 156, while Donnie Davis and Jerry Milam both tossed 600 series.
As a bonus, Craig broke also the bank for about $1,300. It was a great way to end the afternoon, just before Christmas.
JOHNNY CAMPOS is the Journal Star bowling columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 686-3214. Read his Spare Change blog at blogs.pjstar.com/sparechange, or follow him on Twitter at @JohnnyCampos59.