By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
The vision of Big Brothers Big Sisters is a community whose children dream of a brighter future and are empowered to make positive choices.
In Kansas in 2009, BBBS served more than 6,500 children. However, with additional children referred to the program weekly, many are still on the waiting list.
“We are committed to doing all we can to provide these kids with the caring mentor they so desperately need,” said Kerry Seibel, executive director of BBBS of Haskell, Seward and Stevens Counties.
The organization hosts fundraisers throughout the year, but its Bowl For Kids Sake event this weekend at Ayr Lanes in Liberal is estimated to be raising one-third of the local agency’s operating expenses.
BFKS is the biggest fundraiser for BBBS, and that one-third equates to about $30,000, according to Seibel, who said business expenses include background checks, liability insurance, safety training, support from Kansas BBBS and all of the organization’s matched supervision.
To sign up, those wishing to bowl need to call the Liberal office at 624-9000 or e-mail
“All they need to do is let me know that they would like to have a team of five, no more than six,” Seibel said. “They can call or fax over their registration. All they have to do is tell me who their team is. If they could let me know Friday by 6 p.m., that would be great.”
Seibel said participants need to pre-register to help her get an idea of how much food, which includes pizza and pop, is needed for bowlers.
“We ask that each individual raise $100,” she said. “That gets them a T-shirt. The bowling, the shoes, the pizza and the pop is all free, provided by Pizza Hut, Ayr Lanes and Pepsi.”
Seibel said prospective bowlers can raise the money through anyone they know, including friends and family.
“They can go around and ask for pledges,” she said. “They can collect the money at that time, or they can be billed out. They can make online payments. It’s set up to do your own online, and they can do pledges through there. I’ll take pledges up to a week after the bowl.”
Seibel said BFKS has seen great corporate support, as well as community support thus far this year.
“I cannot say enough good things about the people in this town,” she said. “They really truly give, and all of them that give $250 and above were listed on our T-shirts, our pledge sheets, posters and banners put up in the bowling alley to display their business. Most of our money comes from corporate sponsors. We’d really like to increase our teams. We’re getting there.”
Top pledge earners will receive a 19-inch flat screen television, and other prizes will be given out throughout Friday and Saturday.
“We have 50 pounds of pork loin donated by Seaboard,” Seibel said. “We have a trip to a Kansas City water park. National Beef has donated 20 pounds of hamburger. For door prizes, we have gift certificates from local restaurants, local businesses, gas cards, tool sets.”
Seibel said the local BBBS agency has a hand in other events during the year in addition to BFKS.
“We participate in Summerfest with a miniature golf tournament,” she said. “We’ve done poker runs. We participate in all the floats that are available – Cinco de Mayo, Pancake Day. Those aren’t necessarily fundraisers, but we participate in quite a few benefits at the college. This is definitely our biggest one of the year.”
In terms of children needing care in Liberal, Seibel said there are about 1,400 kids in that category in the community.
“We currently have more than 80 matches, and it’s increasing rapidly,” she said. “We still have several kids on the waiting list. We’re still needing volunteers. I need board members if anybody’s interested in serving on the board.”
Seibel said Haskell and Stevens counties each have about 200 kids in need of care at this time.
The director encourages as many people as possible to participate in Friday and Saturday’s bowling festivities.
“They don’t have to be good bowlers to come out and bowl,” she said. “We’ll take anybody. It’s just fun. It goes for a good cause.”
Bowl For Kids Sake runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 1 to 3 p.m. and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Ayr Lanes.
The event is presented by Koch Industries. Sponsors include Ayr Lanes, Pizza Hut, Pepsi, National Beef, Black Hills Energy, Al Shank Insurance, Early Riser Kiwanis, The Community Bank, First National Bank, Epic Touch, Southern Pioneer Electric, J&R Sand, Dermatology Laser Center, Centera Bank, Rick’s Well Services, Crazy House, Scantlin’s Furniture, OB-GYN Associates, Golden Plains Credit Union and the Leader & Times.
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