It’s nearly time again for the Decatur County chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ (BBBS) annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake (BFKS) fundraising event at Parkside Lanes.
The yearly spectacle gets rolling at 10 a.m. Sunday with teams of five going for strikes aimed at benefiting local children. The lead-up to Sunday has been a flurry of activity for BBBS Executive Director Bev Karazsia, Program Manager Lisa Hermesch, and Administrative Assistant Katie Stoffel. They’ve sent out fliers and news releases, posted signs and paper bowling pins throughout the town, and they’ve amassed a varied assortment of auction items to complement the event’s main attraction.
But despite all the work involved and the BBBS staff’s gratitude for those set to take part in Sunday’s day of bowling, this year’s numbers aren’t measuring up.
And for a non-profit that exists, essentially, on the generosity of others, this has been distressing news, particularly for the BBBS staff. Bev Karazsia doesn’t have an answer as to why fewer teams have pledged to bowl this year, but she has plenty of reasons as to why they should.
More than 50 of those reasons were displayed Thursday afternoon at the BBBS office, all of which will be up for bids during the BFKS event. A silent auction will allow anyone in the community — bowling pro or no — to place bids on a wide range of unique items donated to BBBS specifically for this event.
The annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake is the most important fundraiser each year for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and they’ve pulled out all the stops to make this year a success.
Sports fans, in particular, may find a lot to like about this year’s auction items, which include an autographed jersey worn by former New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush; an autographed t-shirt and photo of Pacers star Danny Granger; tickets to the Cincinnati Reds and Indianapolis Indians; an autographed photo of Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri; an authentic green race flag signed by the likes of professional IRL drivers such Danica Patrick, Helio Castroneves, Dario Franchitti, Marco Andretti, the late Dan Weldon and others; and even a framed painting of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.
These items, Karazsia stressed, are open to anyone willing to stop by Parkside Lanes Sunday; taking part in bowling is entirely separate.
Alongside all the sports-related items are tickets to several different vacation destinations, including the Newport Aquarium, Squire Boone Caverns, Conner Prairie and the Indianapolis Zoo. There’s a little something for just about everyone amid this collection, and BBBS staff are hoping the wide-ranging appeal will attract an equally diverse group of visitors to Parkside Sunday.
Karazsia and company again emphasized that all funds collected via the bowling event, silent auction and ongoing Dine for Kids’ Sake are used to fund programs solely for local children.
This money buys schools supplies, funds group trips and scholarships, and allows for recreational activities such as swimming trips and various camps. Information from BBBS indicates children enrolled in mentoring programs and other activities provided by the not-for-profit tend to do better in school, avoid drugs and alcohol and generally feel better about themselves. The goal of each of BBBS’ programs, above all, is providing opportunities for children to reach their full potential. The programs have also proven worthwhile for adults, many of whom have written numerous testimonials about how they and the lives of their “littles” have been brightened over something as simple as a 30 minute school lunch. Going further, BBBS has recently instituted a child safety program Karazsia said has been “well received” by mentors as well as school administrators. More than 700 local students are presently involved in the program. Katie Stoffel said that, as the program has grown significantly, the need for more funds has followed in tandem with that growth.
Big Brothers Big Sisters staff are hoping the positive word of mouth from so many leads to more folks hurrying to sign up in the last couple days prior to the event. The group, as of Thursday afternoon, was 41 teams short of where they were at this time a year ago — a significant downturn that could negatively impact the organization as a whole. This possibility has led to BBBS calling for “virtual bowlers,” or individuals who donate $25 to the cause without actually participating in the bowling itself. Those getting teams organized are asked to collect $50 each, which covers the cost of the game, shoes and snacks.
For those interested in participating, the slower turnout for bowlers this year has left several time slots available as of press time Thursday evening. There are bowling times available at 11 a.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m. These times are filled on a first come, first served basis.
Those wishing to sign up or learn more about this year’s event or auction items should call the BBBS office at 663-7556 or visit bbbsgreensburg.org. The office is located at 420 South Michigan Avenue.
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056