The LaGrange branch of Big Brothers Big Sisters has an interesting way of attracting new volunteers: they want to pummel them with foam balls.
But it’s all in good fun, and it’s for a good cause, said local club chairman John Harrell.
“We’re having a dodgeball tournament,” Harrell said. “Dodgeball is something that I think everyone knows how to play. Nobody’s really good at it, but we’re all having a good time.”
The group’s Monday tournament at LaGrange Academy drew more nearly 20 people from all ages and backgrounds. It’s the second of three such tournaments, with the next scheduled for Monday at 5 p.m., also at the academy’s gym on Vernon Road.
“I believe we’ve literally got (players) from (ages) 8 to 80,” Harrell said. “We wanted to be able to have something that everybody can participate in.”
It’s all good fun, but Harrell said it’s about much more. Making a positive impact in a child’s life is the best way to build a better future for the community, he said.
“We have so many things that we would like to change in our communities today,” Harrell said. “And if we want to make a lasting change, we’ve got to pass that baton on to a child. And the best way to do that is one-on-one mentoring. We have a mentoring program that’s over a 100 years old. We just want to get our adults hooked up with a teen that could really use a strong mentor.”
Kelley Mitchell, program manager of the LaGrange branch of Big Brothers Big Sisters, believes the event will create more bonding time for “bigs” and “littles” – the adult mentors and children paired by the program – plus showcase the close relationships they have. She hoped it would inspire more people to get involved in the organizations.
“It’s a good time for everyone to get together and regroup,” Mitchell explained. “We can get the ‘bigs’ and ‘littles’ to tell their stories and hopefully get more people to sign up as ‘bigs.’
“It’s also a fun activity for our ‘bigs’ and ‘littles,’ and they get to help out at the event as well,” she continued. “It provides fellowship among our ‘bigs,’ ‘littles,’ our board members, potential new board members and the community. We might not make a million dollars, but it will be for a good cause and raise more awareness for Big Brothers Big Sisters.”
The third and final dodgeball tournament is open to the public and Harrell encourages people to come out and give it their best shot.
“Everybody will get a T-shirt, everybody will get fed,” Harrell said. “(It costs) 10 dollars a head, but that includes dinner, dodgeball and a shirt — which I think is a pretty good deal, and I’m kind of a stingy old man.
“Anybody is welcome to come out and play. We particularly like to have people who have contemplated mentoring a child.”
Anyone interested in signing up for the dodgeball tournament can call Kelley Mitchell at 706-298-2434 or John Harrell at 706-302-7546. People can also sign up for the tournament online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PLW3VYY.
— Reporter Melanie Ruberti contributed to this report.
Tyler H. Jones is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.