It seemed fitting that just as Twanette Miller, decked out in afro, headband and fringe vest, prepared to aim for the pins at the MainSource Bowl For Kids Sake fundraiser, Abba’s 1970s megahit “Dancing Queen” began blaring from nearby speakers.
The carefree vocal harmony wafted through the Columbus Bowling Center on Saturday.
”You can dance, You can jive,” ”Having the time of your life ... .”
Miller was among the group of Schmitt Elementary School faculty wearing disco-era outfits who seemed to be having the time of their lives.
“I’d like to think that the outfit helps (the bowling),” Miller said with a laugh.
She and her peers were among more than 350 bowlers who raised $85,200 for mentoring relationships administered by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bartholomew County. That total will continue to build from donors until the final fundraising deadline of March 31.
The current figure is close to the total raised at last year’s event, which eventually grew to $98,000 because of an additional influx of money, organizers said. The money helps Big Brothers Big Sisters match young people ages 5 to 17 with adult mentors and role models. Agency leaders regularly cite national statistics showing that such mentoring relationships lower at-risk behavior in young people, and in some cases improves the odds that the students will attend college.
Though background checks, matching and more require time and money to complete, the matches are provided free. Currently, the agency boasts 180 such relationships, with 38 youngsters on a waiting list because they need a mentor.
The weekend’s participants at the bowling center seemed keenly aware of the mission at hand.
“You know, this is fun, but it’s even better to think that we’re able to give something back to the community,” said Mike Stroh, assistant general manager for Columbus’ Johnny Carino’s Country Italian Restaurant. He and four co-workers had collected more than $200 in donations from the restaurant’s servers and decided to bowl.
Zorina Trader, a former Big Sister, decided to volunteer to help clean up at the event — and then also ended up bowling and making a donation, too.
“It just seemed like a fun activity,” Trader said. “And it’s exciting seeing so many people having fun and encouraging one another.”
Just like dancing queens. Having the time of their life.