Jacoby Walker will never forget when he met Cam Newton.“I jumped so high, I was taller than he was,” said the second-grader. “And I screamed so high I sounded like a girl.”The Carolina Panthers quarterback’s surprise appearance at a December event is one of the highlights that the sports-loving Jacoby has experienced as a member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte program.He has regular engagements with his mentor – also called a “Big” – Dilworth resident Patrick Rogers. The two play football toss in the park, hit buckets of golf balls at Revolution Park and attend Charlotte Checkers games.On Feb. 23, Jacoby and Rogers will participate in the annual Bowl for Kids Sake event at 10 Park Lanes. The goal is to raise $130,000, which would make it the largest fundraiser of the year for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte.The organization’s local chapter is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Jacoby and his 13-year-old sister, Ja’Mya Walker, are two of the 1,300 youths who have mentors in the Charlotte area.Jacoby, who will turn 8 on Feb. 21 and lives in the West Chester neighborhood, has been paired with Rogers, 31, for about two years. Their mutual love of sports and the outdoors is one of the personality traits BBBS staff used to match them.Rogers and Jacoby, who attends Allenbrook Elementary, also enjoy fishing near the Rock Hill home where Rogers grew up, and hiking at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.Most of all, they like dining together.“Patrick buys him books to read or games to play,” said Jekeita Walker, Jacoby’s mother.“It tends to mean more to him. I’ve seen a difference in the way Jacoby likes to read. Patrick has gotten him into reading the ‘Wimpy Kid’ books. I see a difference in Jacoby’s demeanor and attitude.”After seeing Jacoby’s enthusiasm for Newton at the BBBS Discovery Place event at Christmas, Rogers knew exactly what he would get Jacoby for Christmas: a Newton jersey and football.Rogers is involved in Bowl for Kids Sake on several levels. He said will he bowl a little bit with Jacoby, but Rogers also is co-chairman of the BBBS corporate committee organizing the event.BBBS has set a goal of at least 110 teams of four to six bowlers each participating. Each bowler’s goal is to raise at least $125 to participate in the noncompetitive event. Each team will get to bowl as much as it can in one hour.Rogers is a member of one of the three teams sponsored by his employer, the K&L Gates law firm. Rogers’ wife, Leigh, who is almost as much a part of Jacoby’s life as her husband, is also participating as a bowler.Last year, Bowl for Kids Sake raised $93,000 after raising almost $84,000 in 2011. Joseph Butler, BBBS director of corporate relations and events, says the event has taken place at least since 2004.Bowling for Kids Sake is one of four major BBBS fundraising events planned for 2013. The “Big Splash” will be held this spring at Great Wolfe Lodge in Concord.On May 13, the Chip ‘n for Children golf tournament will be at Pine Island Country Club.The Big Day at the Lake, in which BBBS youths get to enjoy water sports including boating, swimming and tubing on Lake Norman, will take place July 20.While funds are needed to operate the program, BBBS also can’t operate without Bigs. Jacoby’s 12-year-old brother Raequan is one of at least 400 youths on a waiting list to be matched because there aren’t enough mentors to go around.For more information about Bowl for Kids Sake and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte, contact Joseph Butler at email@example.com or 704- 910-1301, ext. 1017.
Friday, Feb. 15, 2013
Bowling for Big Brothers Big Sisters
Bowling for Kids event Feb. 23
Jacoby Walker with his mentor, Patrick Rogers. COURTESY OF PATRICK ROGERS