The gold at the end of the bowling lane: Big Brothers/Big Sisters hold annual Bowl For Kids’ Sake Challenge | TheUnion.com

The gold at the end of the bowling lane: Big Brothers/Big Sisters hold annual Bowl For Kids’ Sake Challenge

Jennifer Nobles
Special to Prospector

One of the most beloved Irish traditions that embodies the luck o' the Irish is the belief that at the end of a far-off rainbow lies a pot of gold. The idea that just beyond our reach sits a fortune so vast that many of our woes would disappear upon its discovery.

For so many youth within and outside of our community, their pot of gold lies significantly beyond their grasp. Circumstances out of their control have led them into a situation wherein they are in special need of a role model, or someone who can take time out to interact with them and help set them on a positive course.

Enter Big Brother/Big Sisters of Nevada County. The organization pairs children in need of special attention with adults or high school students who offer them a sounding board, a confidant, and a most of all, a friend.

Lindy Schasiepen, event coordinator for our local chapter of Big Brothers/Big Sisters said of the program: "If you show a child love and respect and care they are less likely to go down a bad path. One-on-one mentoring is so important; it's a proven prescription."

She went on to explain that research shows that mentoring is successful in producing a positive outcome for children failing school. Children are 46 percent less likely to use illegal drugs, 27 percent less likely to use alcohol, 22 percent less like to skip school, and 33 percent are less likely to hit or bully others.

For all of these reasons, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Nevada County are especially excited about their biggest fundraiser of the year, the Bowl For Kids' Sake Challenge, which will be held at Prosperity Lanes in Grass Valley from 3-8 p.m. Saturday.

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Setting up the pins

The event began as an opportunity for the Big Brothers and Sisters (or just "Bigs" as they are called) to share some special recreational time with their little brothers and sisters (predictably referred to as "Littles") in a communal setting.

Eventually, as Schasiepen said, "They thought, 'We can invite other people too. It doesn't have to just be people within the organization.'"

Thirty-six years after that epiphany, the Bowl For Kids' Sake Challenge has evolved into a family-friendly event that helps the group raise necessary funds to support their operations.

Funds from the event are raised by several different efforts. A number of local businesses donate generously as sponsors — sponsorship begins at $250. Separately, teams of three to five people are formed with a minimum donation of $100 per individual.

Schasiepen said that in addition to the generosity of participants, "Prosperity Lanes gives us retired pins as a donation, then we turn those pins over to artists in the community and to high school art students; they create the masterpieces. Every pin is different. We sell them through silent auction and raise money that way as well."

Teams can choose from a number of allotted bowling times, each about an hour and 15 minutes long. Costumes and leprechaun attire is encouraged.

The final session at 6:30 p.m. and is for adults only, with the bar open.

Prizes will be awarded for each time slot in the categories of Top Fundraiser (both individual and team), and Best Team/Individual Costume. A silent auction will also be held.

According to Schasiepen and her colleagues at Big Brothers/Big Sisters, their fundraiser will help to serve about 100 local children who participate in their program. That number doesn't include those who are on a waiting list.

The funds raised are utilized in a number of different ways.

"We have to have insurance. We need to make sure participants are upstanding members of the community," said Schasiepen. "So we do background checks; we have to pay someone to put in the paperwork, do fingerprinting, run FBI checks. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes action before anyone is accepted to be a Big.

"I think the most important thing is that this event funds the programming, and without the programming so many of these children would be sort of lost."

Schasiepen said that with no funding from the national Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization, events like Bowl For Kids' Sake are what keep the local chapter successful and thriving.

"It's all about friendship and building the confidence of a child. That's what Big Brothers/Big Sisters is about," said Schasiepen. "The difference it makes in a child's life … it can turn a child around."

If you are or someone you know is a youth in need of guidance and mentoring, please contact Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Nevada County at 530-265-2059. Please call the same number or visit bigsofnc.org if you are interested in becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister.

Jennifer Nobles is a freelance writer for The Union and can be contacted at jenkrisnobles@gmail.com.

KNOW & GO

WHAT: Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Nevada County Bowl For Kids’ Sake Challenge

WHERE: Prosperity Lanes, 420 Henderson Street, Grass Valley

WHEN: 3-8 p.m. Saturday

INFO: Visit bigsofnc.org or call 530-265-2059 for more information