Big Brothers Big Sisters has hit upon a great fundraiser with Bowl for Kids' Sake, and our area agency, BBBS of Marquette and Alger Counties, is among those who get a huge amount of their financial support through this event that annually draws a half-million people nationwide.
This year's edition, the 25th for our area, takes place over a half dozen times from Thursday through Saturday, April 24-26, at Superior Lanes in Marquette Township and at two times on Saturday, April 26, at Red Rock Lanes in Ishpeming.
Executive Director Jayne Letts of the Marquette-Alger agency said the event raised about $35,000 last year and hopes it will raise $50,000 this time around.
The area agency includes about 200 youths, split almost equally between its community-based and school-based programs. Each involves an adult mentoring, and just as importantly, spending time with a boy or girl who comes from an adverse situation once or several times a month.
It can be in any of a wide range of activities, whether it's something as intense as rock climbing, or as simple as reading a book or eating pizza with him or her.
And Bowl For Kids Sake is the big fundraiser that helps make all this possible.
For the past five years, the Marquette-Alger BBBS has used its website as an easy way to register for and disseminate information about this event, which includes a chance to bowl two games for free.
Each bowler needs to raise at least $75 to receive a T-shirt with a logo Letts is excited about for this year.
"Maybe it sounds like a lot, but that's just getting eight people to pledge $10," she told me by phone last week. "All funds raised at our event stay here locally."
Its website, bbbsmqt.kintera.org/bfks2014, even includes ways to donate to a bowler and a list of the top fundraising individuals and teams.
So it's possible to be a part of this even if you don't feel up to actually bowling, though for somebody like me, that's where all the fun is.
I've participated several times at each bowling center, and let me tell you, it's a blast with all the buzz of activity going on.
Even if you never pick up a bowling ball any time the rest of the year, what's the worst that can happen? You throw a whole bunch of shots into the gutter, then the ball is returned right back to you for another try.
I was able to talk briefly with the event's No. 1 fundraiser as of last weekend, William Mosher. He's not only a big participant in the event, but he's also a "Big," BBBS parlance for Big Brother.
"I really believe in the program, so I'm happy to help them out," Mosher said. "I've been a 'Big' for about two or three years. It's great for me, and it's great for Nash.
"It's nice to have people trying to support me in this."
He said he finds it rewarding to watch his "Little," Nash, grow and how he has changed as he gets closer to becoming an adult.
The activities they participate in vary every month, but include some events that the BBBS people sponsor, such as sledding at Suicide Hill or climbing the rock wall in the PEIF building at Northern Michigan University.
"They're community events you wouldn't normally get to do," Mosher said.
He said pledges have been made for him for many different reasons, including in memory of someone who has passed away. Some prefer to be anonymous.
Letts wanted to make sure to thank all the BFKS sponsors, which was a list of about 15 businesses that have been listed in advertisements multiple times right here in The Mining Journal.
She also said it's not too late to form a team or just get a pledge sheet for yourself, either by going through the website or calling her office at 475-7801 and having one mailed out. Try either of those to answer more questions about the event, too.
Now on to the Journal Bowlers of the Week for March 7-13:
The women's race was about as close as it can get with just two pins separating the top three bowlers.
Tina Brandel picked up that one extra spare that gave her the weekly title at 124 pins over her 146 average in the Tuesday Night Mixed League at Superior Lanes with a 562 series that included a 201 game.
Next came two Red Rock Lanes bowlers at plus-122: Bernie Krause of the Tuesday T&T Ladies, who had a 123 average and shot 491 with a top game of 193, and Lisa Gannon of the Thursday Night Ladies, with a 172 average, 638 series and 237 biggest game.
Dave St. Onge of the Monday Northern Electric Automotive Industrial at Red Rock made sure the men's race wasn't as close. He shot 169 pins over his 187 average on games of 238, 226 and 266.
Then came Roger Laurn of the Red Rock Tuesday Major, who exceeded by 154 pins his 183 average with a 703 set and 257 high. In third was Chris Stankowski of the Friday Nite Mixed at Red Rock, coming in 134 over his 164 average with 626 and a 245 best.