It's time again for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of the Tri-Cities' annual Bowl for Kids' Sake event and this year's fundraiser promises to be a "bowling skill optional," fun-filled, family-oriented extravaganza in support of the organization's root cause: to mentor the community's at-risk youth.
The bowling benefit will be held at three local bowling alleys - with events in Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport - over the span of three days. For a $25 participation fee per person, the amenities will include: bowling shoes, lanes, door prizes, food and, of course, fun!
Belmont Lanes will host Bristol's Bowl for Kids' Sake 2014 from 6 to 9 p.m., April 10. Holiday Lanes will host the Johnson City benefit from 6 to 9 p.m., April 11. Warpath Lanes will host the Kingsport bowling event from 5 to 9 p.m., April 12.
"[This event's] really low-key," said Katie Carrico, regional director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee. "We're gonna make it a party, not a bowling tournament. We do sometimes try to get [participants] to bowl backwards or on their stomach, [so] there is no reard for score."
Bowl for Kids' Sake is a national initiative started by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America over 40 years ago to "thank" their volunteers while raising the funds needed to pair more big brothers and sisters (Bigs) with little brothers and sisters (Littles).
"Bowl for Kids' Sake is BBBS of America's concept and they encourage a lot of their affiliates to host an event of their own," Carrico said. BBBS of East Tennessee began hosting Bowl for Kids' Sake in the Tri-Cities region in 2008.
BBBS of the Tri-Cities was originally established in 1984 as a Kingsport program. Then, its territory expanded to encompass the Greater Tr-Cities region and, after merging with another agency, BBBS of East Tennessee was formed, Carrico explained. "We've served thousands of children over the last 30 years. It's a growing process."
Through Bowl for Kids' Sake funds, BBBS of East Tennessee has been able to serve additional children every year, Carrico said. "Last year, we managed to raise $19,000 - so 19 of [the total 130 kids mentored through BBBS last year] were Bowl for Kids' Sake kids."
The goal for Bowl for Kids' Sake 2014 is to raise $30,000, Carrico continued.
"We're hoping to get to 145 [kids] this year. ... So, "$30,000 would help us with the last 30 kids of that 145."
In order to achieve the BBBS goal, "we lowered the price this year," Carrico said. "In previous years, the price was $50 a person, and the reason we lowered (it) ... is because we want a broader audience. We want people to be able to bring their families."
Anyone of any age can get involved in Bowl for Kids' Sake. All that is required is a few short steps to get the ball rolling: Get a team together of at least two to four people; register at www.BowlForKidsToday.org and choose the location, date and one-hour time slot that best suits your team. On-site registration will be allowed at all three locations on event days until 8 p.m., as space is available. Then, collect at least $25 per person to bring with your team the day of the event. And just come out and bowl!
For those who cannot contribute to the fundraiser by bowling, Carrico said there are other ways to support BBBS of East Tennessee in achieving its goal: Share or re-tweet about Bowl for Kids' Sake on social media sites; host a speaker from BBBS to discuss the benefit; place a donation box where you work; donate $5 at www.BowlforKidsToday.org to send a Big/Little pair bowling; put up posters or flyers; buy a Bowl for Kids' Sake T-shirt; donate a prize or auction item; ask a local group you're affiliated with to donate; or volunteer to set up/break down the day of the bowling event.
Participants and volunteers can give a Little or they can give Big, but either way they're giving to brighten a child's future and, for Carrico and the rest of Big Brothers Big Sisters staff, that's all that matters.
For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee or how to get involved with Bowl for Kids' Sake, visit them on Facebook, Twitter, at www.TennesseeBig.org, or call 423-247-3241.