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Bowl-A-Thon strikes smiles

March 22, 2015

by Justin Porreca

“Buddies” and “littles” – the children and adults who benefits from the  Big Brothers Big Sisters and Best Buddies programs – converged at the Playdium Bowling Center for an afternoon of fun and games to raise money for their programs.

Big Brothers Big Sisters and Best Buddies sponsored a successful fundraiser Saturday and some 70 people attended the event.

The bowl-a-thon was at the 363 Ontario St. alleys attracted  volunteers, special guests, and parents of the two programs’ participants.

Big Brothers Big Sisters and Best Buddies raised $284, or $142 for each program. The funds will offset the cost of  future trips and parties for the “littles” and “buddies.” The Saint Rose chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters will also donate a  portion to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region.

President of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Matthew Woods and President of Best Buddies, Marlee Wood, organizing the donations they received at the bowl-a-thon Saturday/Justin Porreca

President of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Matthew Woods and President of Best Buddies, Marlee Wood, organizing the donations they received at the bowl-a-thon Saturday/Justin Porreca

“I’m overwhelmed with how much we raised. I didn’t know what to expect coming into it,” said Matthew Woods, president of the Saint Rose Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter.

“There were a lot of people I didn’t expect to show up. There were a lot of people outside of the programs that showed up,” said Grace Howard, sophomore and vice president of the Saint Rose chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters. “We want to get more people from outside the programs next year, but for our first year the turnout was good.”

“The buddies are having a blast. Every single one you can see them having a blast even if they are throwing gutter balls,” said Adam Tripp. “I really think they should do this again, these kids love it and I know the future kids will love it too.”

The parents of the “littles” and “buddies” involved were  pleased with the initiative the volunteers took and their overall care for the participants in the programs.

“It’s a great opportunity to get a bunch of volunteers together from two different programs,” said Paul Stefanowicz, parent of Eileen Stefanowicz who’s in the Best Buddies Program. “It’s very heartening that people are taking interest in people that are otherwise overlooked, because people with disabilities have a lot to offer if given the opportunity.”

“Buddy,” Eileen Stefanowicz, excited after getting a spare at the Big Brothers Big Sisters and Best Buddies bowl-a-thon at Playdium Bowling Center on Saturday/Justin Porreca

“Buddy,” Eileen Stefanowicz, excited after getting a spare at the Big Brothers Big Sisters and Best Buddies bowl-a-thon at Playdium Bowling Center on Saturday/Justin Porreca

Mother of “little” Na-Je Sprattley, Jessica Sprattley, is another parent that is pleased with the overall Big Brothers Big Sisters program and the bowl-a-thon fundraiser.

“It’s an excellent thing that they (volunteers) want to give back to these kids,” she said. “This is a very good program for the kids and the staff. They match them up very well.”

The day made a difference for a number of the participants.

“I had a great time with Hannah (Conroy). She is one of the best buddies I’ve had, she’s so nice and really great,” said Corey Wayman, one of the “buddies.”

“It was good and awesome because I got to spend time with Molly and Sam,” said Na-Je Sprattley, who bowled with volunteers Molly Shapiro and Samantha Pizzigati.

A “buddy” from the Best Buddies volunteer program focusing in on the pins before his shot at the bowl-a-thon/Justin Porreca

A “buddy” from the Best Buddies volunteer program focusing in on the pins before his shot at the bowl-a-thon/Justin Porreca

The Playdium’s proprietor has played host to many events, and he appreciated Saturday’s.

“There is a heavy load on the college students and for them to take time out of their schedules to help people that are less fortunate and need the attention they don’t get is great and them taking the time to get involved in these programs is great,” said Neil Luther, owner of the Playdium.

The big winner of the day from the Best Buddies program was, Eileen Stefanowicz. She won a Pottery Place gift bag among other gifts. Na-Je Sprattley was the big

“Buddy,” Eileen Stefanowicz, receiving her second raffle prize from Big Brothers Big Sisters President, Matthew Woods at the bowl-a-thon Saturday/Justin Porreca

“Buddy,” Eileen Stefanowicz, receiving her second raffle prize from Big Brothers Big Sisters President, Matthew Woods at the bowl-a-thon Saturday/Justin Porreca

winner from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. He won an Olympia Sports gift basket and two tickets to an Albany Devils game.

The best part about the program is being with all my friends and making new friends, I like everybody and getting to meet new people,” said Zach Pierce, a “buddy” in the Best Buddies program.
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