What could be better than bowling a couple of games and helping out a charitable cause at the same time?
That's what Bowl For Kids Sake has offered for the past 20 years, this year being its 21st edition, to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Marquette and Alger Counties.
This is the organization's major fundraiser each year, bringing in an average of $34,000 a year for the past few years with an ambitious goal of reaching $50,000 this spring.
That's according to Senja Wahlman, the group's director of development.
"We want everybody to join us, but this year one of the things we're featuring is asking businesses to get teams together, maybe for friendly competition within the company or with similar businesses," Wahlman said.
The great news for most of us is that none of the competition is on the lanes - no, it's all in the fundraising.
All or nearly all the pledges are based on simply showing up on the bowling approaches to get in one or two games.
I've participated a few times in the past, and trust me, you'll be in good company if your form wouldn't land you a spot on the pro bowlers tour.
It's one of the great things about the sport - no matter how bad you are, even if your ball lands in the gutter before you have a chance to blink, your bowling lane will deliver your ball back to you in about 30 seconds.
Just to add a little fun and levity to your day or evening on the lanes is this year's theme - the 1980s.
"We encourage people to dress in costumes," Wahlman said. "There'll be contests every shift."
Plus, the event will be glow bowling, popular with the younger crowd, where black lights make just about every light-colored surface stand out, including the pins, the balls and even the Bowl For Kids Sake T-shirts.
"We have some really cool shirts this year," Wahlman said. "They're black with white lettering, so they're great for glow bowling."
The event will take place over four days at both Marquette County bowling centers during the latter part of April. Shifts last two hours, which should give everybody in a group enough time to get two games in.
Country Lanes in Ishpeming will hosts shifts at 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, while Superior Lanes in Marquette has shifts at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday, April 26-27, along with 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 7 p.m. shifts on Saturday, April 28.
Big Brothers Big Sisters needs funds in its effort to match children ages 7 to 18 with adult partners, including doing interviews and conducting background and reference checks of prospective volunteers.
"We also call for match support on a monthly basis, and we provide activities every month," Wahlman said.
Currently, the program has 74 matches in its traditional community program in Marquette and Alger counties, with about 55 more in its school-based lunch buddy program where volunteers meet up with a child during their school lunch hour.
"A lot of lunch buddy partnerships turn into a community program commitment," Wahlman said.
She stated this is BBBS' mission statement it just recently revised: "Our mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever."
The group asks that each bowler gather at least $75 in pledges, with a $500 cash prize to this year's top pledge earner. And everybody who comes to their shift with at least $150 in pledges is entered into a drawing with a grand prize of an iPad 2.
For more information, both on Bowl for Kids Sake and to volunteer, call BBBS at 475-7801 or email Wahlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now for our Mining Journal Bowlers of the Week, three weeks worth in fact. With all my facts and figures getting jumbled up, I couldn't figure out who belongs to which week, so I combining everyone and recognizing a lot more people than usual:
The big winner for this period was Eric Nault, even though he has a lofty 201 average. He still managed to shoot 187 pins over that mark with a huge 790 series in the Monday Northern Electric Automotive Industrial League at Country Lanes several weeks ago on games of 245, 268 and 277.
Next for the men is Chuck Ellis in the Friday 800 Mixed at Superior Lanes, shooting 133 over his 187 mean with 694, including a top game of 258.
And close behind was 152-average Luke Joki, again in the Monday NEA Industrial at plus-130 as he hit 586 without a 200 game - 196, 191 and 199.
And we'll round out the men's race with Lyle Luedeman in the Tuesday Night Mixed at Superior. This 162-average bowler hit 600 on the button with a 244 top game.
For the women, we don't have a winner - we have two, as Michelle Woodard and Katie Salminen each shot 115 pins over average in Superior Lanes leagues.
Woodard, a 123 average shooter, hit 484 with a 175 top game in the Tuesday Night Mixed, while Salminen, the 167-average secretary-treasurer of the Friday 800 Mixed, hit 616 with a 234 best effort.
And our next best score was again doubled, as both Renee Rankin and Candice Rajala were 109 over.
Rankin, with a 103 average in the Thursday Coors Light at Country, obliterated that with 418 on games of 111, 140 and 167.
Rajala was bowling in the Monday college class for Northern Michigan University at Superior. Coming in at 89, she powered past that with 376 including a 169 top game.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.