Hundreds of motorcyclists participated in the 100-mile Fifth Annual Big Ride for Kids’ Sake Saturday to raise funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is an organization that matches adults, called Bigs, to children, called Littles, who are mentored in the school system and community. Matches meet one on one.
Shelley Schwab, Big Brothers Big Sisters development director, said there were 125 people who participated in this year’s event.
There are 178 matches in Kosciusko County currently, and 57 kids are on the waiting list.
The ride kicked off at the Big Brothers Big Sisters office on Detroit Street. The event featured raffle tickets for prizes, and music by Kevin Kyle, local guitarist.
“The purpose of today is to generate awareness about our mission and to recruit volunteers and raise much needed funds,” Schwab said. Laster Boggs, Big Brother, started the event five years ago. He has been a Big for the past five years to a 14-year-old boy. “I started the ride because we needed to keep the program going in Kosciusko County in hopes of watching it grow,” Boggs said. Boggs said he has enjoyed being a Big Brother. He has went jet skiing, fishing and gone to amusement parks with his Little. “The most fulfillment is seeing the change happening. You mentor someone who did not see hope, and the program continually sees success where these kids end up in college and a good career,” Boggs said.
Briana Kessler, Big Sister, was a lunch buddy mentor for a year, and has been in the community-based program for three months. Her Little is 9 years old and they rode a motorcycle together Saturday. They have read books, her Little has learned how to knit and they have gone to a movie and planted flowers. “It’s very important to raise funds to keep the program going,” Kessler said. Her Little has enjoyed being in the program. “She is so kind, sweet and nice,” she said of Kessler.
Indiana State Police troopers led the motorcyclists with help from Warsaw Police Department. Luke Nathalang, Indiana State Police trooper, is a Big and rode his motorcycle Saturday. He has been a Big for the past three years to an 11-year-old boy in Fort Wayne. They have gone golfing, swimming and fishing. “This is a good program. We need volunteers to help these young kids who will be our future,” Nathalang said.
For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit www.bbseni.org, call 888-456-1600 or stop at the Big Brothers Big Sisters office, 1603 N. Detroit St.