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David Doney and Bob Nagy passed up tickets to Saturday's Montana State University football game to hang out at a bowling alley Saturday afternoon, and they didn't even bowl a frame.

Instead, the duo spent the day helping out with Bowl for Kids' Sake, an annual celebration for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Yellowstone County. They helped set up at Sunset Lanes, 1625 Central Ave., and gathered tickets and money for a 50/50 raffle.

David, 13, has been Nagy's Little Brother in the program for about seven years.

"I say this program is awesome," David said. "It's been a really good experience for Bigs and Littles."

The "Bigs and Littles" are the adults and kids who are matched up in the program, with the grownups acting as positive mentors to the kids.

Since early October, about 240 people organized into 46 teams have been raising money for BBBSYC, and their efforts culminated with Saturday's celebration, complete with pizza, door prizes, a radio DJ and, of course, bowling. The teams are made up of area residents and representatives from Billings businesses. Becky Webber, BBBSYC executive director, said First Interstate Bank alone sent 17 teams and that St. Vincent Healthcare and Billings Clinic were also well represented.

As of 8 p.m. Saturday, $29,800 had been raised, and some donations had not yet been counted. The money - along with cash from an annual auction held each April, grants and private donations - will help fund the program's general operations and hopefully help track down more male mentors, as the program has 42 boys who do not have Big Brothers.

"Every cent we raise goes right back into the program," Webber said. "We're changing how our children are growing up in Yellowstone County."

That's a statement most of the people in attendance agreed with. Sometimes it can be tough to get kids excited about volunteer work, but that didn't seem to be a problem on Saturday, as many kids who aren't Littles could be found at Sunset Lanes, sporting big grins and white T-shirts with the event's initials formed into a Superman logo.

Casey Dalton, 15, Decker Brown, 14, and Michelle Presley, 11, all got involved because they have parents who are team members through First Interstate Bank. They sat alongside teams from all over the city and bowled happily throughout the afternoon.

"It's great because it gives little kids the opportunity to know they matter, too," Casey said. "We just like to volunteer."

Decker summed up the event with a simple "It's for the kids, man."

For David and Nagy, the event meant a little more. It's easy to see how close they are as the two chat back and forth, practically finishing each other's sentences. Nagy said they passed up on tickets to the Cat-Griz football game next weekend to go hunting together and that his entire family has gotten close with David over the past seven years, saying "he's like one of our family members."

And to David, he says he's changed quite a bit because of BBBSYC.

"When I started, I didn't really know what it was," he said. "I was confused and I had a big attitude. But now I have better relationships and better feelings of how to treat people."

For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Yellowstone County, visit its website at www.bbbsyc.org.

Contact Zach Benoit at zbenoit@billingsgazette.com or 657-1357.

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