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‘Roll’ models fill the lanes

  • Recorder/David Rainville<br/>"Big sister" Kelly Mignault and "little sister" Elizabeth Reed, 14, at the 33rd annual Bowl for Kids' Sake Bowl-a-thon, a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County Saturday at the French King Bowling Center.

    Recorder/David Rainville
    "Big sister" Kelly Mignault and "little sister" Elizabeth Reed, 14, at the 33rd annual Bowl for Kids' Sake Bowl-a-thon, a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County Saturday at the French King Bowling Center.

  • Recorder/David Rainville<br/>Sean Mason, of Northfield, bowls for the Lefty's Brewing Co. team at the 33rd annual Bowl for Kids' Sake bowl-athon, a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County Saturday at the French King Bowling Center.

    Recorder/David Rainville
    Sean Mason, of Northfield, bowls for the Lefty's Brewing Co. team at the 33rd annual Bowl for Kids' Sake bowl-athon, a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County Saturday at the French King Bowling Center.

  • Recorder/David Rainville<br/>"Big sister" Kelly Mignault and "little sister" Elizabeth Reed, 14, at the 33rd annual Bowl for Kids' Sake Bowl-a-thon, a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County Saturday at the French King Bowling Center.
  • Recorder/David Rainville<br/>Sean Mason, of Northfield, bowls for the Lefty's Brewing Co. team at the 33rd annual Bowl for Kids' Sake bowl-athon, a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County Saturday at the French King Bowling Center.

ERVING — The lanes of the French King Bowling Alley were packed full Saturday.

Though 54 teams competed throughout the day, it wasn’t league night. Though scores varied widely, everyone won in the 33rd annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake Bowl-a-thon fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County.

“We raised $19,000 last year, and this year’s goal is $20,000,” said Danielle Letourneau-Therrien, executive director of the organization. “People really like the cause, and it’s a fun way to help.”

In the end, the fundraiser exceeded its goal by more than $2,000.

For a little extra fun this year, the group added a theme, “bowl your hats off.” Participants were encouraged to wear hats, and the more outlandish, the better. Prizes were given out to those that sported the silliest headwear.

Though Saturday’s event was all about fun, the lead-up required a lot of effort.

“The bowlers do a lot of work raising money,” said Letourneau-Therrien.

“Big sister” Kelly Mignault of Deerfield and little sister Elizabeth Reed, 14, of Greenfield, raised $520 this year, a marked improvement from last year’s $350. They collected pledges outside Fosters Supermarket, as well as from family, friends and Mignault’s coworkers.

The two were matched up four years ago, and have spent a lot of quality time together and never missed a bowl-a-thon.

“Having a big sister is really fun; I like it a lot,” said Reed. But she gets a lot more out of it than a good time.

“I’m more vocal now, it’s helped a lot with my social skills,” said Reed. “It also keeps me out of trouble and gives me someone to look up to.”

“I signed up because I wanted to give back to the community,” said Mignault. “And, I never had a sister of my own.”

The two are looking forward to Red Sox Mentoring Night in May, when they’ll head to Fenway to catch a game.

They’re also eager to enjoy the nice weather fishing together. When it’s not so nice out, they enjoy playing cards together, particularly rummy.

Letourneau-Therrien said the kids served by the organization, aged 6 to 16, are evaluated before when they enter the program and when they leave, and that the results speak for themselves.

“There are measurable outcomes,” she said. “Kids in the program have a more positive outlook on school and are more likely to participate in extracurricular activities, which will help them later in life.”

Some of the friendships made in Big Brothers Big Sisters last a lifetime.

“I had a little brother years ago, and we’re still in touch,” said Richard Colgon, 37-year member of the Board of Directors. “He’s going on 50.”

Colgon said the Franklin County chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters is now in its 45th year.

There are now about 132 “big and little” pairs in the chapter, which serves the county as well as the North Quabbin region. Letourneau-Therrien said costs average out to about $1,000 annually per pair, for professional support. There are four full-time employees in the countywide organization and a slew of volunteers.

The organization relies heavily on fundraisers and donations. Letourneau-Therrien said the group receives some money from the United Way and the occasional grant, but is responsible for raising the bulk of its costs.

Organizers thanked the Semb family, owners of the bowling alley, for their generous support through the last 33 years. Several other area businesses and organizations also pitched in, offering cash donations as well as door, costume and auction prizes.

The group is always looking for more “bigs,” said Letourneau-Therrien, especially big brothers.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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