PUBLISHED: 5:49 PM on Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Bowl for Kids' Sake signing up teams for 25th anniversary
When Bowl for Kids' Sake comes around, it's an opportunity for the communities in Soutehast to come join in the fun in any way they are able, said Amber Richard of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

This year, Bowl for Kids' Sake, celebrating its 25th anniversary in Juneau, is also coming to Ketchikan (for the second year) and for the first time also to Sitka, Hoonah and Skagway.

"In Hoonah and Sitka we're setting up our own bowling alleys in the auditoriums," said Richard, "bowling Southeast Alaska style!"

Bowl for Kids' Sake started as an initiative to raise funds locally for the successful mentoring program 25 years ago, in an attempt to make the program sustainable. Anybody who can raise $150 in donations for Big Brothers Big Sisters can participate on a bowling team.

"We think of Bowl for Kids' Sake less as a special event and more as a campaign for kids," Richard said. "Our volunteer fundraisers go out and raise a minimumof $150 and we throw Bowl for Kids' Sake at the end as a party to say thanks for everything they've done for us."

And for people who are on the shy side, Big Brothers Big Sisters have made use of technology - so those who aren't comfortable soliciting sponsors face to face can solicit contributions by e-mail, which also means there are no geographical limits to the fundraising.

The event - or party - includes, in addition to bowling, music, food, and some pretty impressive prizes for the fundraisers.

The top fundraiser prizes in the entire regioin this year are two roundtrip tickets to any West Coast destination on Alaska Airlines - including Mexico -Eand a seven day cruise for two on Royal Caribbean. Other districtwide fundraiser reward are a trip with Alaska Rail Adventures - two trips to Anchorage and a train trip to Fairbanks with a stay at the Westmark Hotel, and an amethyst pendant with accent diamonds from Fire & Ice.

There are also local prizes to the top fundraiser in each community, Richard said. "Wings have always given us tickets, we have whalewatching tours and gift certificates from businesses and restaurants."

"Businesses and people of Juneau and other communities are so supportive," said Richard.

The 25-year history of the event in Juneau is exciting for the current staff, said Richard.

"It's been amazing how many people I've run across who say 'Oh yeah, I was a part of that when I first moved here in 1983' - it's exciting for us to make connections and hear the stories about how it all started."

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program has established new branches in Skagway and Metlakatla over the past year, and continues to grow. Last year, the program matched a total of 487 kids with adult buddies across Southeast; that's up from 344 the year before.

The Bowl for Kids' Sake dates are: Juneau, April 2; Hoonah, April 9; Ketchikan, April 10; Sitka, April 16, and Skagway still TBA.