She was 6 years old when she met her Big Sister.
Alisha Olney, now a college junior, joined Big Brothers Big Sisters because her biological sisters had done the same. That decision connected her with Teresa Allen, her Big Sister and now life-long friend, and changed her life forever — for the better.
“Without her and her husband, Jim, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today,” Olney said.
Olney’s story and others like it will be featured at this weekend’s Bowl for Kids’ Sake event, hosted by Foundation for Youth to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bartholomew and Brown counties.
Bowl for Kids’ Sake, which begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, is the only fundraiser Foundation for Youth has for Big Brothers Big Sisters each year, said Laura Moses, director of the Bartholomew and Brown county programs.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a program that matches at-risk youth with “big siblings” — adults or high school students — who serve as a positive role model and mentor.
Currently there are 161 local matches, Moses said. Annually there are about 230 matches in the program.
The goal is to raise $100,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters through the participation of 122 teams, Moses said. Last year’s event exceeded that goal, while the 2014 event fell just short.
Bowl for Kids’ Sake is not actually a bowling competition but rather a competition to see which team of five can raise the most money. The event funds about 40 percent of the entire Big Brothers Big Sisters budget, Moses said.
Each bowler is required to raise a minimum of $75 to participate, Moses said.
As an incentive, all participants will receive a specially-designed Bowl for Kids’ Sake T-shirt.
This year’s design depicts a bowling ball lovingly putting her arms around a pin wearing a baseball bat and carrying a book about fishing. That design was not randomly created, Moses said, but was actually drawn to depict the relationship between Olney and her Big Sister.
Olney is an adventurous girl who loves to wear baseball caps and be outdoors. She often camped, hiked and did other outdoor activities with her Big Sister, and a big part of their relationship included frequent fishing trips with Teresa’s husband.
Each year, the Bowl for Kids’ Sake team creates a T-shirt design depicting the relationship between Big and Little siblings to remind participants of the reason for their fundraising efforts.
“Organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters provide really good mentors to kids who may or may not have that sort of support at home or that sort of involvement,” Olney said.
The three teams that raise the most funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters will win special prize bundles, including gift cards to restaurants, hotels and other businesses around Columbus.
And as an extra incentive, all participants will automatically be entered into an hourly raffle and will also receive free Jimmy John’s sandwiches.
As a reward for the hard work of the bowlers, Big Brothers Big Sisters will host a celebration party on April 21 at Hotel Indigo, where Olney will share her story with the program’s supporters.
Registration for Bowl for Kids’ Sake is open through Friday at noon. The event begins at 9 a.m. at the Columbus Bowling Center.
To register for Bowl for Kids’ Sake, visit foundationforyouth.com/spotlight/2016bowlforkidssake. Participants can register as teams of five with one captain, or as virtual bowlers who just want to raise money. For more information, contact Laura Moses at Foundation for Youth at 812-348-4558.
2016 Bowl for Kids’ Sake
- When: 9 a.m. to 5:10 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Columbus Bowling Center, 3010 State St.
- What: Annual fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bartholomew and Brown County
- Cost: $75 minimum per bowler