Fund-Raiser Helps Bbbs Roll Out The Fun

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Join 300 of your friends at Rim Country Lanes Sunday, Aug. 15 and help Big Brothers Big Sisters of Gila County raise money for fun.

The third annual Bowl for Kids' Sake will feature 64, five-member teams from around the Rim, vying for prizes and trophies, while helping BBBS secure money that will be used to improve the lives of children. It is the primary fund-raiser for the organization.

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The annual Bowl for Kids' Sake, hosted by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Gila County is fun for all ages and raises money for the BBBS program.

"It doesn't matter what kind of skills you have," said Ellen Kitchen, who won the top prize for funds raised last year -- a trip to California. "It's all about getting up and having fun and doing it for the kids."

She bowled with a team from the post office where she works, and will be there again this year with her co-workers.

She said the biggest reward is getting the money for the children. It's a reward everyone, not just the bowlers can enjoy.

"Oh, be there," she urged. "We could use all the help we can get and you get to watch us fall on our faces," she added and laughed.

"We get no funding from the government. We rely on donations and grants. And we have to apply for the grants every year and compete with everyone else that applies, including the government," said Susan Williams, director of BBBS of Gila County.

The first year the bowling event raised about $7,000, she said. The participants were primarily people affiliated with BBBS in some way. Last year, with a broader-base of bowlers, about $17,000 came in, and this year Williams expects to see a similar bottom line.

While the goal of Bowl for Kids' Sake is to raise money for the BBBS program, Williams said having fun is almost as important.

"We're encouraging all the teams to think of fun names to use," Williams said. A trophy will be awarded at each of the four time slots -- 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. -- to the most spirited team. The best bowler in each slot will be presented a trophy too, Williams said.

Trophies aren't the only prizes though, and bowlers aren't the only eligible winners.

"There will be lots of prizes to win," Williams said.

Bowlers' awards also include: two round trip tickets on America West Airlines to Las Vegas, plus $300 cash for first prize; a night's stay at the Majestic Mountain Inn for two, along with dinner at Cucina Paradiso for second prize; a mystery reward for third place; a pizza party at Cucina Paradiso for the team in which each member brought in at least $100 in donations: and a $50 Wal-Mart gift certificate to the youth bowler who brings in the most donations.

Spectators at Sunday's Bowl for Kids' Sake can buy raffle tickets for a treasure trove of prizes -- everything from a gift basket to a new child's bike. It is not necessary for spectators to buy raffle tickets though, bring in usable clothing and a raffle ticket will be presented in exchange for the clothes. The clothes will then be sold to Savers -- the used clothing retailer pays BBBS $5 for each barrel of clothing it contributes.

To add to that bottom line, bowling teams can have their portraits made for a small fee and everyone can buy a Bowl for Kids' Sake T-shirt and the BBBS book, "Magic Moments," for $20 and read about the special connection adults and children have made through the program.

While the Bowl for Kids' Sake event gives everyone a chance to see the fun associated with BBBS, more details will be presented Wednesday, Sept. 8, at a special program "Mentoring 101," Williams said. General information about BBBS will be presented and active mentors will answer specific questions about the experiences they have had with the young people with whom they've been matched.

Currently BBBS has 18 matches in the program. "We're in serious need of Big Brothers," Williams said. "Traditionally, across the country, it's hard (to find enough men to volunteer), but it's been especially hard here and I don't know why. People who participate are surprised at how easy it is. It sounds like a big commitment, but it's fun and it improves the life of the volunteer as much as it does that of the child."

In an attempt to ease people into the program and provide a means for those not interested in mentoring or board service, BBBS will have a booster-type organization in the near future, Williams said. With the booster group, people can contribute to the program by helping with fund-raising events and other projects, she said.

Another possible addition to BBBS is a new in-school mentoring program, where adults can go into the school district to work with their matches.

"We've been wanting to do this and the schools have wanted us to do it, but we just haven't had the funding," Williams said.

To fund the expansion of the BBBS program a federal grant was sought. Williams said they should know if their application was successful in September.

To find out more about Bowl for Kids' Sake and BBBS of Gila County, call Williams at (928) 468-8375 or e-mail her at swilliams@bbbsaz.org. Additional information about the program is available at inpayson.com or bbbsaz.org.

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