Big Brothers Big Sisters fundraiser helps create east Tennessee friendships

The fourth annual Cash for Kids’ Sake fundraiser benefitting Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee was held at The Standard in downtown Knoxville. Over 200 people attended the event which included a silent auction, live auction, dinner, fellowship and a reverse raffle.

In the midst of exciting bidding on hot items like a Peyton Manning signed football, multiple getaway trips, and a VIP experience to Zoo Knoxville, participants did not want to hear their name drawn during the night. The final name pulled from the drum in the reverse raffle would walk away with the grand prize of $15,000.

This year I was happy to join the staff of Big Brothers Big Sisters and other volunteers to emcee the fabulous Cash for Kids’ Sake fundraiser. Testimonials came from local “bigs” as two mothers of “littles,” Afeni Henderson and Zenobia Dobson, recounted their sons’ experience in the program.

Dobson is the mother of Zaevion Dobson who was killed in a drive by shooting in December 2015. Her son was matched with a “big” during a pivotal time in his life, and while others call Zaevion a hero, his mother knows “bigs” are heroes as well.

For five years I have had the privilege of volunteering with various Big Brothers Big Sisters events. Through golf tournaments, fundraisers, and days with a “big” and “little” at the Tennessee Smokies ballpark for a game day, I have seen incredible friendships, contagious smiles, and exciting experiences.

As a reporter, I had the honor of capturing the surprise of one “little” who was selected to be the Cool Kid of the Game at a Tennessee Smokies (AA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) baseball game. The child was given front row seats behind home plate, concession vouchers, a Smokies hat, as well as sit in the dugout during pregame, the chance to throw out the first pitch, announce batters from the press box, participate in an interview for the news, and soak in the day with his “big.”

Those are days I will cherish as I think back to the kids who experienced their first time at a baseball game. The power of a mentor, the power of volunteers, the power of an agency like Big Brothers Big Sisters. That is what makes a night like Cash for Kids’ Sake so wonderful.

The purpose of Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee is to “provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one‐to‐one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Through these relationships, children achieve success throughout their lives. Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee served more than 925 children in 2016. Through one-to-one mentoring relationships, these children make better decisions about their lives, have a better attitude about school and choose to avoid risky behaviors.”


Photos by Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee

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