A Big Brother or Big Sister can often be seen as a superhero to the young kids they mentor.
That was evident on the weekend as some Islanders donned their favourite superhero outfits and hit the bowling alley in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of P.E.I. during a Halloween-themed Bowl for Kids Sake tournament.
While the final tally wasn’t available Sunday, organizers estimate this year’s tournament raised about $120,000 in support of the group’s mentoring programs.
With 35 P.E.I. children currently on a waiting list for a mentor, communications and development manager Heather Doran noted that many individuals who don’t necessarily see themselves as a mentor may actually be a perfect fit.
“Yes, our mentors are superheroes, but you don’t have to (think you’re) a superhero to be a mentor,” she said. “If you’re shy or quiet, you might be the perfect mentor for a child who is waiting, since we match kids based on their personality and interests.”
Apart from the traditional mentoring with Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Big Couples, the organization also provides in-school and teen mentoring, as well as programs like Go Girls, Game on and “Kids N’ Kopz.”
“Mentoring is not a ‘nice to have’ it’s a ‘need to have.’ We’re helping kids develop the confidence to achieve more and the ultimate goal is that each child has a chance to reach their full potential,” said Doran.
The tournament saw more than 245 P.E.I. teams participate in games at Murphy’s Community Centre in Charlottetown, as well as at bowling lanes in Tignish, Summerside, North Rustico and Souris.
The tournament also sees many former and current mentors, as well as individuals who have been mentored, participating either by raising money and bowling or volunteering for the weekend.
The annual fundraiser has also become a tradition for some teams.
Tanya McCarron, a member of the Dundee Arms Inn team, said the group has been taking part in the event for about eight years.
The three-member team also made costumes to fit the Halloween theme, with McCarron dressed as “Tourism Girl,” while her teammates were dressed as the “Housekeeping Superhero” and Supergirl.
“It’s fun. It’s great for team building with co-workers and it raises money for a great cause to help children,” said McCarron, adding that the team hopes to participate next year.
Myron Yates, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of P.E.I., said while the event is a major fundraiser it also helps spread awareness of the group’s programs and the need for more mentors.
“That’s a really important part of this event,” said Yates, adding that mentoring often has a profound effect on both the child and mentor. “We have some terrific volunteers that give us feedback and they’re always saying how much the program has impacted them as individuals.”
Yates also thanked the many volunteers, participants and corporate sponsors who make the event possible.
“P.E.I. is a small community but we get that support every year and (the corporate sponsors) support many other good causes as well. For us, it’s always a big thank you to the business community on P.E.I. because that’s been really important.”