Stefan Sinclair: On A Roll For BBBS!
He’s been a Big Brother, part of the Big Impact Group, and this year, he’s chair of the Bowl for Kids Host Committee – a year that marks Stefan Sinclair’s 10th anniversary of participating in Bowl for Kids. So, how did his involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters begin? With Bowl for Kids, of course!
A video game developer who arrived in Austin for work, Stefan got connected with BBBS and Bowl for Kids because of another software engineer, Mike McShaffry. “Mike was recruiting other video game developers and asked if I wanted to start a team,” said Stefan. “I’ve been a part of every Bowl for Kids event but one since that time. One year I had to be gone for work, but my co-workers still formed a team and participated. After the first couple of years with the event, I became enamored with the organization and its mission. I decided I wanted to take the next step, and I applied to become a Big.”
That was almost 9 years ago and his Little Brother, Miguel, was 13. Miguel’s mom enrolled him in the BBBS program because she saw him developing an attitude. “My son was rebellious with me,” she said at the time. “My son talked back and didn’t listen. He behaved very poorly at school.” Stefan supported Miguel through personal struggles, showed him how to be more patient, and motivated Miguel to do better in school. As a result, Miguel changed his attitude and made better decisions about his studies.
Today? Miguel turns 22 this month and he and Stefan are still in touch, though they don’t meet in person as often due to COVID and life responsibilities. “Just last week I reached out to him to see if the company where he works would be a corporate sponsor for Bowl for Kids,” said Stefan. “How cool would that be!?”
It would bring the Bowl for Kids event full circle.
For 38 years, Bowl for Kids has been a signature fundraising event for BBBS. Bowl for Kids features a themed bowling party, with prizes and awards. This year, as last year, the event will be held virtually, and teams that raise $750 or more will receive vouchers to bowl in person whenever they are comfortable doing so.
“Bowl for Kids is a different kind of fundraising event than Ice Ball,” said Stefan. “I really like that the agency has another fundraiser with a more casual vibe. It’s less daunting, especially for people in my circle. There are a lot of people in the game developer world who would never dress up and go out for an event like Ice Ball. It’s just not their social thing, they wouldn’t feel comfortable. But getting a crazy costume together and going bowling with friends… doing something that is laid back and fun? That appeals to a lot of people. I’m really glad BBBS offers both types of events, because it gets a wider group of people involved.”
Increasing participation is one of the Bowl for Kids Host Committee’s goals. The Host Committee is a team of volunteers Stefan wants to thank, along with BBBS’ Big Impact Group and Executive Board, for helping to make this annual event a success.
“I know from first-hand experience that Bowl for Kids is a great way to increase awareness about the organization,” said Stefan. “BBBS wasn’t even on my radar until Mike called me to participate in the event. The Host Committee is working to reach out to new groups and industries, trying to get new people and companies involved.”
“Fundraising is hugely important because it enables more kids to be helped by BBBS,” said Stefan. “I’ve seen the value of mentoring in my own life. As a kid, being exposed to a wider variety of opportunities and people, if all positive, is a good thing. Also, having someone who is an unconditional listener and who is there to give help if needed. It’s extremely valuable. And the earlier you start, the better.”
It’s something Stefan incorporates into his personal life with his wife Robbi and his son Ben. “My wife and I feel that as parents,” said Stefan “the earlier you start with kids, the bigger the impact. It’s important to help kids develop good habits early, and to expose them to as many positive opportunities as you can.”
Bowl for Kids will not be an in-person event this year, however the virtual event will still include special activities for participants and teams. “I know the vibe will be different,” said Stefan, “but it’s still important to get involved, put a team together, fundraise, and participate in the virtual event. It’s important to keep this event going strong.”
“BBBS has been providing services in Central Texas for 50 years,” said Stefan. “That’s a big deal! Especially with the way the last year has gone. We need to make sure the event, and the organization, are strong and well-positioned for the next 50 years. Get involved… just do it.”
Learn more about Bowl for Kids at www.BowlForKidsAustin.org