Island rallies behind native son

Fundraiser to be held at Barn, Bowl and Bistro.

The flyer promoting the Barn Bowl and Bistro Fundraiser for Chris Laursen.

Two months ago, Chris Laursen, a 35-year-old website designer who grew up on Martha’s Vineyard, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of soft tissue sarcoma. Initially, the news was a major blow to Laursen, but now he is fighting back with a huge outpouring of support from his friends and family.

On June 2, from 12 noon to 6 pm, the Barn, Bowl and Bistro will be holding a fundraiser for Laursen spearheaded by one of his closest friends, Mike Sawyer. The “borderline epic” fundraiser will consist of two bowling sessions, for which people can sign up for $50 per bowler, and a silent auction including a house rental in St. John, wampum jewelry, a sunset cruise on a sailboat, massages, and many other items and gift certificates. All of the money raised will be donated to Laursen for medical expenses, transportation to his cancer treatment center, and living expense relief.

Sawyer, the general manager for the Barn, Bowl and Bistro, grew up on the Island with Laursen, going to the Tisbury School and Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School together and staying in touch in college and beyond. Laursen even designed the Barn, Bowl and Bistro’s website.

“Chris is such a fun person to be around,” Sawyer said. “He’s usually the center of attention at any gathering within the first hour.”

The fundraiser has been a huge effort from many of Laursen’s friends, but Sawyer wanted to highlight Kelsey Berry’s efforts in gathering donations for the silent auction. Berry is a professional planner and event consultant.

Children, adults, and families are invited to the fundraiser. People interested in bowling can sign up on the Barn, Bowl and Bistro’s website, but bowling is not a requirement to attend; anyone can show up, bid at the auction, dine-to-donate, enjoy $1 oysters, be a part of the 50/50 raffle, and enjoy the atmosphere.

“Between all these things, we think it’s going to be a really fun event, and we’re really excited to get people from the community here and help support [Laursen] in a really fun way,” Sawyer said.

In addition to the fundraiser, a gofundme page has been set up where people can donate money to Laursen. Within 48 hours, the page had raised over $20,000, and now sits at over $34,000 donated by 243 people, with a goal of $40,000. Single donations have ranged from $5 to $1,500. “In a time of need, people really rally and come together,” Sawyer said.

Laursen, who has begun chemotherapy, will be making an appearance at the fundraiser. Having met with his doctor on Monday, Laursen said there have been signs of improvement, but some new tumors have appeared. Despite this, he has been feeling well, and plans to see his friends.

“It’s been amazing the amount of support and attention it’s gotten. All the people from my past have been coming out and donating and sharing the fundraiser. It’s been mind-boggling, moving, awesome, and a huge relief,” Laursen said about the whole process.

Laursen has lived in Brooklyn for the past seven years, but moved in March when he was in the middle of being diagnosed. He now lives an hour north of New York City, and is excited to return home.

“I want to say thank you to people who have called me, donated to me, written to me, everything. Thank you so much for the love and support. I’m looking forward to seeing people there I haven’t seen in a long time.”

The Hope Strikes for Chris fundraiser will be held at the Barn, Bowl and Bistro in Oak Bluffs on June 2, 12 pm to 6 pm. For more information and to sign up to bowl, visit To donate to Chris’s gofundme, visit