Bowlers pack lanes to Bowl for Kids’ Sake

About 1,000 bowlers packed Colonial Lanes in Iowa City on Sunday for the 31st annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake.

IOWA CITY, IA (March 1, 2015) — Sara Barron, community relations director at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County, said the organization hopes to raise $150,000 this year to benefit the youth mentorship program.

“This fundraiser has a direct impact on our ability to provide mentorships to youth in Johnson County,” Barron said. “One out of every three mentorships is directly supported by this fundraiser.”

The money raised by the annual event, which this year carried a “Totally ’80s” theme, helps fund volunteer recruiting, screening and training. It also finances ongoing youth support and the one-on-one mentorships offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters, which serves more than 500 children from age 6 to 18 every year.

“One of the greatest parts of this fundraiser is being able to tell all of the little brothers and sisters that all of these people, everyone who participates, are here to support them,” Barron said.

The University of Iowa Community Credit Union is the title sponsor of the event, and owners of Colonial Lanes lend the alley to the organization and provide free shoe rentals. UICCU senior vice president of retail Steve Quigley, said he has been participating in the fundraiser for about the last 12 years.

“The credit union had 22 teams here yesterday, and all of the (24) lanes were full,” he said. “I try to reach out as much as I can to as many people as I can, and there’s been wonderful support from everyone. It’s a lot of work, but every little bit helps. I don’t care what you give, as long as you gave.”

Quigley raised more than $7,000 for the fundraiser this year, a majority of which came from donations between $20 and $25.

Chenise Meyer, 22, of Iowa City was bowling with her “little,” Yasmin Aguilar-Rosales, 11, Sunday. Meyer said she has spent about an hour a week with Aguilar-Rosales over the last year, and visits her for lunch and recess during school on Fridays.

“(This fundraiser) means everything to the program. This is what makes everything the BBBS does possible,” Meyer said. “The mentorship program is a great way for these kids to have another adult figure in their lives — someone who isn’t family, but who they can talk to and spend time with.”

Aguilar-Rosales said she likes spending time with her “big,” playing board games and eating with Meyer on Fridays.

“We had a lot of fun bowling here last year,” Aguilar-Rosales said. “And I really like when (Meyer) comes to eat lunch with me.”

Latrell Sasseen, 13, of Iowa City said he likes fishing and canoeing with his “big,” retired Iowa City police officer Tom Widmer, and appreciates what the program has done for him over the past five years.

“For kids who haven’t had a mother or father figure in their lives, this temporarily fills that space,” Sasseen said. “And things like this bowling fundraiser, it’s a lot of fun and you know the money is going to be used for different activities.”

Barron said pledges have brought in about $120,000, but the organization should know the total amount raised by next week.

Last year, bowlers raised $145,000 in pledges.

“Really, this event isn’t just about raising money. It’s also a party to celebrate the hard work of everyone who worked to raise money,” Barron said. “It’s a celebration of all the support we’ve received.”

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