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Bowlers look to score strike for mentoring

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The Rev. Bob Langdon rarely asks his congregation at Shelby County’s Little Blue River Baptist Church about their giving. But he hardly thinks twice about asking people to financially support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bartholomew County.

That may explain why the Columbus resident has collected the most donations in eight of the past 10 years for the agency’s annual MainSource Bank Bowl For Kids Sake fundraiser.

The 2014 version of the event, one in which teams of five bowlers each gather pledges and donations from supporters, will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Columbus Bowling Center, 3010 State St.

“I’ve always hated asking people for money,” said Langdon, who worked as a caseworker for the nonprofit mentoring agency from 1994 to 2004. “With Big Brothers, I had to learn to overcome that.”

Last year, he raised the top participant amount of $3,322 of the $98,000 raised overall, just shy of the record $100,000 mark.

For his efforts, Langdon earned an iPad mini.

But Langdon said the biggest prize is knowing that more youngsters needing role models can be matched with caring adults when he and others raise money for the agency.

That’s why he asks even his insurance agent, doctor and barber to support his bowling. He mails dozens of letters each year asking people if they would consider giving. He backs his requests with a mention that he serves as a Big Brother for two youngsters, ages 7 and 13.

Pica Saddler, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bartholomew County’s resource development director, called the annual fundraiser great family fun.

As for the need, she said there is a waiting list of children to be matched with adults.

“It’s critical that the community continues to support us,” Saddler said.

She estimated that each mentor match costs $1,000 to $1,200, including background checks for safety.

She serves as a Big Sister to a 15-year-old high school student.

“She’s a great gift to me,” Saddler said. “She’s an inspiration.”

Besides the fundraising, Saturday’s event also is a good time to educate people about the need for mentors. For those uncertain if they have time weekly to spend with a youngster, an alternative is school-based matches in which mentors have lunch at school occasionally with the students.

“We still need people to step up and volunteer,” Saddler said.

Langdon echoed that.

He also realizes the need of donors stepping up, which is why he’s not afraid of asking church members for money for Big Brothers. They have donated more than $6,500 to the cause since 1999.

“I do feel it’s kind of a ministry,” Langdon said. “We’re called to be positive role models.”

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