Ron Getto remembers his days working on Wall Street, where he raised huge sums of money to fund projects that he never got to see come to fruition.
On Saturday morning he was standing in the middle of Starlite Lanes, the bowling alley in Flagstaff that he bought with his wife Karen in 2010, surrounded by throngs of bowlers during the 37th annual Bowl For Kids Sake fundraiser.
The event raises funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff.
“It’s amazing to help raise this money and see exactly where it’s going and the good that it is going to do in the community,” Getto said.
Starlite Lanes is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year on Route 66 right next to the Museum Club.
“I believe we are the fourth owners in 60 years.” Getto said.
“I inherited this event and had no idea what I was getting into but went with the flow during my first year in February of 2011. I immediately found out how important we are as a community fundraising platform.” He said. “We support well over 50 charities a year.”
That support for the community comes in a number of forms.
Getto said close to a thousand individual bowling lanes a year are used for fundraising on top of the Kids Bowl Free program, which gives 15,000 free games to 3,000 kids in a thousand families every year.
For Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff, Starlite Lanes has been a perfect fit for their organization, said Executive Director Kelly Elliott.
“It’s not just a great opportunity to fundraise but it’s also a great opportunity to recruit volunteers from the teams who participate.” Elliott said.
“We wouldn’t be anywhere without Ron and Karen and Starlite Lanes.”
While Starlite is celebrating its 60th anniversary Big Brothers Big Sisters also just had an important birthday, too. November marked the 50th year that the organization has been serving the Flagstaff community.
The goal for Saturday’s event was to raise $25,000. Flagstaff Medical Center raised almost a third of that by bringing enough teams to take over all 16 lanes of the bowling alley for two hours from 9 to 11 a.m.
“Each hour they raised more than $4,000 for a total of over $8,000. It’s so great. They get all of the different departments to put up a team and then they are all competing with each other.” Elliott said.
“Every team must raise at least $250 to bowl for an hour. This year we had 130 teams registered.”
The money raised is used to support the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program, which helps children get connected with an adult in the program.
Elliott said children are often on a waiting list for a “Big” for three months to a year, with 50 kids on the list at any given time. Most are boys.
Elliott’s hope is that those coming to have a good time and raise money for a good cause will take the next step and volunteer to become a Big Brother or Big Sister.
For information on volunteering go to www.flagstaffbigs.org or call (928) 774-0649.