A Look Back: Bowling Through the Years
It’s been rolling since 1983. For 40 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Bowl for Kids event has attracted pirates, hippies, aliens, zombies, and dinosaurs – all in costume, that is – who have raised funds to support one-to-one mentoring relationships for kids in our community. This special happening has raised over $1.2 million in the last decade alone, while raising awareness of BBBS’s mission throughout the area.
For most of this time, Bowl for Kids has been held at Highland Lanes bowling alley on Burnet Road in Austin. “It’s been hosted here since 1996,” said Sue Barry, Manager of Highland Lanes. “Our president, John Donovan was asked to host the event in 1995. It had previously been held at Capitol Bowl and Showplace Lanes.”
Over the years, the excitement surrounding the event has been amplified by a range of outrageous costumes and props as hundreds of participants have gotten into the Bowl for Kids spirit. “The themes, costumes and props have been amazing,” said Sue. “For the Oscars theme there was a red carpet and a giant Hollywood sign. The year of the Galactic Bowl there were spaceships, Star Wars cutouts, and people dressed as storm troopers.”
Past Bowl for Kids themes have included Cowboys vs Zombies, Pirates, Dinosaurs, Peace, Love & Bowling, Superheroes, Mardi Gras, Viva Las Vegas, and Rock Stars, to name just a few. There have also been creative props such as a Scooby Doo bus and a pirate ship that participants could pose behind. These fun backdrops, along with some of our recent event trophies, were created by an employee from one of our corporate sponsors.
Amidst all the revelry though, bowlers have always remembered the event’s overarching purpose; raising funds to help more kids in our community. And, as with any event, it’s the people who have made the biggest difference. There are bowlers who have attended Bowl for Kids almost every year since as early as 1991. “It’s really the best of all worlds,” noted one participant, “having fun and helping children achieve success in life.”
Highland Lanes has been there along the way, offering not only their building, but the support of their staff as well. “We enjoy working with the BBBS team,” said Sue. “They are great to work with and they host a great party for the BFK participants. Since we have competitive league bowling most evenings, it’s a nice change of pace to have teams bowling, having fun, and not focusing on the scores bowled.”
As the excitement and plans ramp up, Bowl for Kids 2023 is on track to be better than ever with this year’s 90’s ‘Saved by the Bowl’ theme. Closing in on the half century mark, the event promises to do what it’s always done, provide participants with a fun way to make a lasting impact for kids in our community.