Bowling organization gives back to veterans


John LaSpina, president of the Maple Family Centers in Rockville Centre, recently presented a $250,000 donation to the National Association of State Veterans Homes on behalf of the Bowlers to Veterans Link.

“Bowling and the people who serve have a long history together,” LaSpina said.

In addition to owning and operating five bowling alleys across New York and Florida, including Maple Lanes RVC, LaSpina is also chairman of the Bowlers to Veterans Link board of directors.

The bowling industry’s national charity organization, Bowlers to Veterans Link, was first created in 1942 when bowlers nationwide helped raise funds to purchase planes to bring wounded men and women in the service home from World War II.

Since that time, the organization has helped raise more than $55 million for recreation and therapeutic programs and services to address the emotional and physical needs of veterans and active-duty military.

Through this donation, the National Association of State Veterans homes will provide state-of-the-art virtual reality equipment and content created by the company, MyndVR, at 50 state veteran homes across the country.

“Today, we are enabling veterans to virtually land on the USS Eisenhower in the Atlantic Ocean, go skydiving in a wingsuit, travel the world, and engage in a whole new range of experiences as part of their recreation therapy activities,” LaSpina said in a press release. “We are excited to join forces with MyndVR to bring this incredible state-of-the-art technology to brighten the lives of as many veterans as possible.”

LaSpina referred to VR therapy as “tomorrow’s penicillin,” noting specifically how it can be applied and the many uses it will have for people with PTSD and other mental health concerns.

“Virtual reality is on the cutting edge of healing therapy,” LaSpina said.

Having witnessed the VR therapy program in action, he recalled how it was used to help one patient who had been struggling to grasp certain objects, to successfully improve his dexterity in catching butterflies.

MyndVR Founder and CEO, Chris Brickler, said that it is an “absolute honor” to be able to provide its brand of therapeutic virtual reality to veterans all across the nation.

“These veterans have earned this technology that provides emotional comfort, cognitive engagement, and even physical exercise in long-term care. The therapeutic power of VR is truly limitless,” Brickler said in a release.

Thanks to the generosity of the Bowlers to Veterans Link organization, veterans living in state homes, like the one in Stony Brook, will soon have the opportunity to experience this state-of-the-art therapy for themselves.

“Veterans have many scars,” LaSpina said. “Some you see. Some you don’t see.”

Through their innovative virtual reality devices, MyndVR is able to provide original and licensed therapeutic content that is sensitive to the specific needs of veterans and encourages engagement and wellness in seniors.

In addition to providing virtual reality therapy to veterans, the organization is asking bowling alleys to round up their sales, or collect a $1 donation, to help raise money for veterans this month.

For more information about the organization, its 80-year history, and the other programs they support, visit