By Dave Warner

For the sixth year, the Tom Bergen Memorial Autism Awareness Bowling Tournament was held at RD’s Gorge View Lanes in Little Falls on Saturday, March 25, and Sunday, March 26, 2023. This year’s no-tap doubles event included six squads Saturday and Sunday.

The memorial tournament is spearheaded by Tammy Helmer-Bergen, Guardianship Coordinator at Arc Herkimer, to honor her son, Tom, who had autism and passed away suddenly in 2016.

Helmer-Bergen stated, “Every year, this gets bigger and better. This whole community is so giving. We have bowlers that do all six squads every year. It’s just wonderful.”

She said, “This is an event to promote autism awareness. It’s not just about the awareness of autism. It’s also about understanding, acceptance, and love. Those things are so important.”

Helmer-Bergen stated that she had told the squads that they might not know somebody with autism but that they did. “It’s a spectrum, so there are many different aspects.”

She feels like the participation was slightly better than last year. “The bowlers are wonderful. They come out and bowl, participating in the Chinese auction, the bake sale, and everything.”

“Tom would be so proud of this. He was very much a part of autism awareness. When he was in college, he would have a booth up there, and we had always talked about having an autism awareness bowling tournament,” she stated. “I’m sure he’s very proud.”