As bowling balls clanked onto the wooden floor and strikes were celebrated, the leader of a local nonprofit organization couldn’t help but smile.

Kate Eder, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Indiana, and her staff and advisory council had spent the past several months planning its largest fundraiser of the year, Bowl for Kids’ Sake.

From finding sponsors to gathering donations from teams to securing items for a silent auction, all of the work paid off.

Participants high-fived each other and shared laughs all while raising money for a good cause.

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“It is very rewarding,” Eder said. “We promote it as a thank-you to all of them for helping us and supporting us, and then it’s a family day, just being able to see the industrial corporation teams and families come, and everybody can participate and everybody has a good time. That’s really what it’s about.”

About 45 teams participated in the 22nd annual event Sunday at Kingpins Bowl in Seymour. That included groups from local industries, businesses, organizations and schools, along with families and adult mentors with their matches.

Participants had an hour and 15 minutes to bowl for free, including shoe rental, free pizza and soft drinks, and received a T-shirt and the chance to win door prizes. Those who raised more than the minimum $45 were entered to win additional incentive prizes.

During each of the three sessions, awards were presented to the team with the best name, best costumes, most spirited and highest scoring game.

Eder said nearly $31,000 was raised, which was below the goal of $35,000 and lower than last year’s total of more than $32,000. All money raised goes to help cover operating and program costs in Jackson County.

Eder also oversees Big Brothers Big Sisters in Jennings and Scott counties. Jennings County’s Bowl for Kids’ Sake was Saturday, and Scott County’s event will be in a few weeks.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a member agency of Jackson County United Way and provides mentors to children to help them overcome obstacles and be more successful now and in the future.

The agency offers a one-to-one community mentoring program, where an adult (“Big”) is matched with a child (“Little”) and they meet on a regular basis. There also is Lunch Buddies, which allows adults to spend lunch with their match once a week, and High School Bigs, which pairs high school students with elementary schoolchildren during the school day.

Eder said she always is seeking adult volunteers, especially men since more male Littles are being referred.

“I think a lot of people get caught up in the feeling like they are busy and that it might be a big time commitment,” Eder said.

“But really, we only ask for about three to four hours a month as a mentor,” she said. “So in the grand scheme of things, that’s not very much to really have a huge impact on a child’s life. You don’t have to be a counselor to be able to guide these children. They just need somebody there that’s positive and supportive for them.”

Throughout the year, Eder spreads the word about Big Brothers Big Sisters. Bowl for Kids’ Sake is another way to bring awareness to the organization.

“We try to get as much information as we can for participants and people that donate to our bowlers so that we can continue to spread the word and let them know about our program because volunteers are essential for what we do,” she said. “Them reaching out and letting people know and getting the word out and referring people to be volunteers is really what we need the most.”

An eight-member advisory council also plays an important role in spreading the word about the organization and its fundraiser.

Kasee Lambring of Brownstown has been on the advisory council for six years and has been a part of Bowl for Kids’ Sake each year. On Sunday, she bowled with her husband, Chris, and their two children.

She initially was asked to serve because at the time, the council wanted someone involved in the education field. She is a teacher at Brownstown Central Middle School, which has students involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“I see the positive outcomes of those children in need when they have a mentor, like a Big Brother or a Big Sister, and what it can do for them and the positive effects it has, and I like that,” she said. “I like that it is a national organization, so people know of it not just in our community, but they know about it nationwide.”

The council, which meets six times a year, reviews matches, discusses recruitment ideas and contacts donors and sponsors for the fundraiser.

“It’s a fundraiser that I think people in the community know what it’s going to be like, they know what they are raising their money for and they can come here and have a fun hour of competition with their friends and enjoy the free food and some prizes that we give out,” Kasee Lambring said. “I just like the energy that it brings, and it’s something you never have a hard time trying to find people to bowl. People want to do it.”

Chris Lambring said he has accompanied his wife at Bowl for Kids’ Sake each year.

“It’s an opportunity not only for us to come out and enjoy it, but it’s a great opportunity for the kids to come out here and actually get to spend some time maybe with their friends or with their Big Brothers or Big Sisters,” he said.

Since his wife has been on the advisory council, Chris Lambring said he has learned more about Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“The most important component is the camaraderie that the kids get and the opportunity the kids have to have a Big that they can learn from, spend time with and get some of the obvious advantages that they may get from having someone like that in their life,” he said.

Another bowling group consisted of Amy Burns and her daughter, Madelynn, and Crystal Higdon and her daughter, Mary, all of Seymour.

Burns works at Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Seymour, and the company encouraged its employees to form teams. She asked the Higdons, who are her neighbors, about participating.

It wound up being a good day for Madelynn, whose 166 game was the highest of the bowlers in the first session.

“It was pretty cool,” Amy Burns said of her first time at Bowl for Kids’ Sake. “I never dreamed there would be this many people here.”

Madelynn and Mary have been best friends for several years, and they are members of the Seymour Middle School bowling team.

The girls said they understand the importance of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“Some people don’t have an opportunity to do some things, and Big Brothers Big Sisters helps them do some of the things that they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise,” Mary said.

“It’s important that people volunteer their time to help people,” Madelynn said.

Amy Burns said she tried to get her son a Big Brother, but there weren’t enough men to volunteer. She hopes he someday gets a chance to have an adult mentor.

“I still think they do a lot of good things for the community,” she said of Big Brothers Big Sisters. “I would encourage people to volunteer their time so they can make a difference.”

At a glance

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Indiana serves Jackson, Jennings and Scott counties.

It offers three mentoring programs — one-to-one community mentoring, Lunch Buddies and High School Bigs.

For information about the nonprofit organization, call 812-522-9699, email mail@bbbssi.org or visit its Facebook page, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Indiana.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.