The sounds of laughter and cheering filled Leisure Lanes Bowling Centre on March 15 as teams tried to knock down their pins to raise funds for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Ponoka.
These 47 teams collected pledges from family, friends and the community for BBBS’ annual Bowl for Kids bowl-a-thon fundraiser and came out to the bowling alley to engage in some friendly competition.
In the spirit of the ‘Celebrating the Olympics’ theme the bowling alley was decorated with a colourful banner, sports equipment cutouts on the tables and many helium filled balloons. Adding to the theme was the number of groups of people that dressed up like their favourite Olympic team. Teams came as hockey players, golfers, baseball players and more. Among the unique costumes was the Ponoka Elementary School group dressed up as the Jamaican bobsled team and a masculine looking ‘woman’ came as a Russian gymnast.
Tracy Ann Braithewaite, program director of BBBS, dressed up as Mohammed Ali and was excited about the different teams and enjoyed seeing everyone have fun.
“It went really well,” she said. “I’m pleased with how many families showed up this year and everyone looked like they had a great time.”
Morgen Chernick, case worker and fundraising coordinator, was energetic and full of life while greeting everyone when they came in and handed out tickets for hourly door prizes.
“I think it’s great to bring the community out,” said Chernick. “The organization and the support of the community has been amazing and we will do this again. We’re already planning for next year and will be doing a Survivor theme so we’re looking forward to that. It’s a great thing to do and I’ve really enjoyed working on this with all the staff.”
Gord Hoar came out to watch his wife and her team bowl and was impressed with the turnout and the success of the event.
“People are having a great time,” he said. “I think it’s amazing how much money they can raise with this event.”
Each team bowled for an hour and when their time was up the next round of bowlers rushed to their designated lanes.
Throughout the day tickets were drawn for various prizes, upbeat music entertained the teams and food and drinks were readily available for everyone’s enjoyment.
Karrie Quast and her Jamaican bobsled team from the PES had been preparing for the event for some time and enjoyed the stares and amusement of the public when they saw them in their creative costumes.
“It was awesome,” she said. “We had so much fun getting ready for the event, bowling and seeing the way people looked at us. This is our school spirit right here.”
Braithewaite was grateful to Ponoka and was also pleased with the outcome of the event and the effort everyone put into it to make it a great time.
“It was really good,” she said. “Everyone helped, it was a successful group effort. Ponoka has been really supportive of us and it has been another great event.”
Substantial prizes were given, after the results came in, to the winners of different categories.
Adam Patterson raised $1310 and took home the prize for the most money raised by a kid. For the most money raised by an adult Eileen Ensminger brought in $640. The most money raised by a cooperate donor was taken by Community Savings with $2000.
The Ponoka Elementary School team won in two categories for the best dressed team and the most money raised by a group with $1547.
To date, the event brought in $20,269 and funds are still rolling in.
Beth Reitz, executive director of BBBS, was pleased with the outcome of the fundraiser.
“I’m really happy,” she said. “It’s the most that we’ve raised since I’ve started five years ago. We’re very grateful to the community for getting behind this.”
The Bowl for Kids bowl-a-thon has been BBBS’ biggest fundraiser for more than 20 years with the funds going directly to helping community kids.