Spotlight on Sara Grauerholz

It was while working in the hospitality industry that Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Events Specialist Sara Grauerholz first came to appreciate the unique atmosphere found at special events for non-profit organizations.

As Event Concierge at the Hyatt Regency Austin, she coordinated a variety of special events including conventions, professional meetings, corporate gatherings, quinceañeras and wedding receptions. It was the generous spirit and positive energy she sensed at events that benefited charities and other non-profits, however, that made the biggest impression on her.

“Benefits for non-profits always had a different feel,” she says. “There was a special excitement to them that made me feel happy and good about how I was helping.”

In fact, it was while working at the 2016 Ice Ball gala hosted by the Hyatt that Sara first connected with BBBS. Working alongside then Special Events Manager Patty Morton, she learned of a job opening in the agency’s Development department. She realized that the timing was right for her to shift her focus and explore the non-profit world.

During her almost three years at BBBS, Sara has come to play a central role in coordinating several of the agency’s signature events, including SantaCon, Bowl for Kids and all third-party fundraisers.

Helping expand SantaCon, the most recent addition to BBBS’ calendar of special events, has been particularly enjoyable for her. In its first year in 2017, this festive Santa-themed celebration drew over 500 participants and raised over $8,000 to help BBBS create and support more mentoring relationships for kids in Central Texas.

Thanks to the the energy and creativity of Sara and the entire development team, SantaCon 2018 expanded in a number of ways to include Reindeer Games, friendly team competitions in the form of The Snowball Fight, Top Prancer Costume Contest, Christmas Carol Karaoke Contest, a photo booth, and more.

Sure enough, the investment in making SantaCon bigger and better paid off even better than expected!

“We had over 1,000 Santas descend on Rainey Street, and raised enough funds to take 18 kids off BBBS’ waiting list and get them matched with the caring adult mentors they need and deserve,” says Sara.

These days, she’s running full-speed to make sure Bowl for Kids 2019 surpasses expectations as well.

“Because it’s a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, Bowl for Kids spreads our message in a unique and special way,” Sara says with enthusiasm. “Bowl for Kids participants reach out to their own community of family and friends by forming a bowling team, joining a team or setting up their own personal online page to fundraise in support of BBBS.”

“Ultimately, this type of fundraising spreads our message to a wider audience, expands our reach and helps us find new supporters, partners, donors and volunteers.”

Sara is also excited about ramping up the “Industry Bowl” element of this year’s event.

Building on a long-running, friendly fundraising competition among local civil engineering firms, The Industry Bowl encourages companies to challenge others in their field to fundraise for Bowl for Kids. On the day of the event, competitors in related fields celebrate and network by scheduling coinciding bowling times and mixing and mingling with each other during activities facilitated by BBBS. This year, the development team is encouraged by growing participation from Austin-based companies in fields such as technology, healthcare and media.

Ultimately, though, it’s knowing that the special events she helps coordinate are essential to BBBS’ ability to carry out its mission that feels most rewarding to Sara.

What began as an appreciation for the special energy and generous atmosphere she found at charity benefits has grown into a passion for creating similarly uplifting experiences for others. Utilizing her talents and creativity to help change children’s lives for the better, forever, Sara is an essential member of the BBBS team.

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