Coach Silas, mayor, others sling suds for a good cause
by Staff Writer
Charlotte Bobcats Coach Paul Silas traded the hardwood of the basketball court for the wood top bar of Alton’s Kitchen and Cocktails in Cornelius last week to help raise money for Big Day at the Lake.
Big Day is an annual event where more than 100 disadvantaged kids from the Charlotte-area chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters program get a chance to enjoy Lake Norman with boating, games and activities. This year’s Big Day at the Lake is July 16 at the Duke Energy Explorium.
To help raise money for the kids’ Big Day, organizers held a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters June 16 at Alton’s with Coach Silas subbing in as bartender. His tips, along with money raised through a silent auction and a portion of food sales, went to support the youth advocacy and mentoring nonprofit group.
Dave Yochum, who publishes Cornelius Today and Business Today, created Big Day at the Lake in 2005.
“I grew up on the Jersey shore and also lived in Southern California where the concept of access to a waterway or beach is different from Lake Norman which is in many ways like a private lake,” Yochum said. “So I was talking to a friend and suggested we take kids out on the lake. Once the idea started, we just did it as we went along.”
Yochum said backbone of Big Day at the Lake is the volunteers who not only make their boats available for kids to ride in, but also handle the logistics of a picnic that will nearly 600 people. Guests will also enjoy music on Radio Disney, bubble pools, sack races and a lot more. The volunteers keep Big Day from having administration costs, so all money raised can go Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“We have a wonderful group of sincere, dedicated volunteers who will stop at nothing to see that Big Day at the Lake takes place,” Yochum said. “The event shows that people in the Lake Norman community are generous.”
A big part of the Alton’s fundraising event saw a group of business and civic leaders take turns bartending. Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte also worked a stint serving drinks and praised the idea behind Big Day at the Lake.
“It directly impacts lives,” Tarte said. “It’s good not only the children, but also the adults who take part. It’s neat the way the community comes together to support it. It is a signature event for Cornelius.”
The Alton’s fundraiser raked in close to $6,000 to go to Big Brothers Big Sisters.
In total, organizers of Big Day on the Lake have raised nearly $40,000 this year for Big Brothers Big Sisters, but help is still needed.
Yochum hopes to have 100 watercraft lined up when Big Day at the Lake kicks off. He said they’ve still looking for boats to volunteer their crafts for the July 16 event. Boat registration will be open until July 5.
For more information on how to donate to or become a boat sponsor for Big Day at the Lake, contact Dave Yochum at 704-895-1335, Angela Swett at 704-453-4380 or visit the event website at www.bigdayatthelake-lkn.com.
Others who volunteered at the event
Lake Norman area leaders who chipped in by volunteering at the Alton’s Kitchen and Cocktails fundraiser included Realtor Arlene Arciero; Pat Jackson, of Master Title Agency; Janice Travis; Jack Salzman, of Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge; Denis Bilodeau, of Aquesta Insurance; Erika Erlienbach, of the McIntosh Law Firm; and Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners member Karen Bentley. Angela Swett of Image Promotions coordinated the event.