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Redwood Falls Gazette
  • Big Buddies fundraiser attracts local sponsors, volunteers

  • Their motto, at the Redwood County Big Buddies bowl-a-thon, was “We came, we cared, we bowled;” 110 little buddies, big buddies, and volunteers showed up Saturday morning at the fundraiser held at Hi-Way Lanes in Redwood Falls.
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  • Their motto, at the Redwood County Big Buddies bowl-a-thon, was “We came. We cared. We bowled.” One hundred and ten little buddies, big buddies, and volunteers showed up Saturday morning at the fundraiser held at Hi-Way Lanes in Redwood Falls. The mentoring program was sponsored by 57 local businesses, with pizzas donated by four local restaurants. Christy Hartson was there supporting the fundraiser with her children for a different reason: two of them have been enrolled in the program as little buddies. Christy first heard about Big Buddies almost 10 years ago, when her eldest child, Amanda, was four. Now 13, Amanda has graduated from the program, but is still a supporter. “Every other Thursday we’d meet for bingo in Walnut Grove,” said Amanda, between rounds of bowling. “I learned to respect grown ups. Before that, I wasn’t very nice to old people, but my big buddy was an older woman. It was a good experience.” Amanda’s little sister Cassie, eight, currently has a Big Buddy she spends several hours a week with, but who couldn’t make it to the bowl-a-thon. Christy said, “It’s a great program; they’re very welcoming. It helps out my eight year old with learning to communicate with other kids.” Some of the kids who were invited to attend despite the fact they’re still waiting for a grown-up to become a Big Buddy for them. Preston Eberling and River Bryant, both nine, ate donated pizza between rounds of bowling. “It’s fun to be here. We don’t have Big Buddies yet,” said River. Leon King of Belview saw the bowl-a-thon as more than another chance to hang out for an afternoon with his little buddy, Sonny Kremin, 10. King brought along his wife Sharon, and Sonny’s siblings Fletcher, eight, and Tallulah, seven. Leon first heard about the Redwood County Big Buddies program two years ago, when a co-worker at Schult Homes brought in a little friend. “‘Is that your grandson?’” I asked,” King said. “He said, ‘This is my little buddy,’ and told me about it. I thought it would be a good way to get more involved.” Sharon King said, “Sonny was very shy at first, and Leon isn’t a talker, so it took some ideas to get them going at first. Now they’re very comfortable together.” Although King is very open to being a big buddy again once Sonny moves on, he prefers to have just one little buddy at a time. “They really want you to stick with one child, and develop a real one-on-one relationship,” King said. King and Sonny get together for a couple hours an average of once a week. Among the activities they’ve shared are going to horse sales, fishing, decorating Christmas cookies, and going out to dinner once and awhile. “We’ve even taken him out delivering Meals on Wheels with us,” said Leon. “We need more people. These kids need people but there aren’t enough grown-ups involved.”

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