Saturday, March 31, 2012

Magic Moments Ball Recap

Memorable. Unforgettable. Fun. Entertaining. Inspirational. These are a few (inadequate) words that come to mind after experiencing the elegant evening that was the Big Brothers Big Sisters Magical Moments Ball.

Andy Imholte of Black Diamond Auctions put on a wonderful fundraising auction to start of the night.
Attendees were treated to a cocktail reception, a gourmet dinner, inspirational speeches (Shari and her little were unforgettable. John and his little were mesmerizing), fantastic entertainment (Thanks to Deuces Wild) and and enough laughs to last until next years event.

Thanks to the generosity of the Attendees and the Sponsors, tens of thousands of dollars were raised. This money will allow BBBS to continue matching Bigs with Littles. Our entire community is better off because of last nights event.

The entire staff of BBBS shouts a VERY LOUD THANK YOU to all the people and organizations who made last night possible.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota recently received a double honor.

Shari Wahlin of St. Cloud was named the Minnesota Big Sister of the Year. John Kokula of Sartell is the Minnesota Big Brother of the Year. Both are competing for the national Big Sister and Big Brother of the year.

This is the first time the agency has won both the state’s Big Sister and Big Brother awards.

“Both of them have gone above and beyond,” said Ann Matvick, program director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota. “You don’t have to have grandiose events for your little. It’s just incorporating them into daily life.”

The two will compete against at least 51 other Big Brothers and Big Sisters from around the nation.

The national Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year awards will be announced in April. Winners and their littles will receive a trip in June to the 2012 Big Brothers Big Sisters Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., a visit to the White House and participation in national outreach initiatives.

“They have a great chance at the national competition,” Matvick said. “They have great stories.”

Wahlin and her little sister, Kirsten Skjonsby, who is also the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota Little Sister of the Year, will speak at the organization’s Magic Moments Ball. Kokula and his little brother, Morcelli Kombo, will greet guests at the ball.

It is the organization’s largest fundraiser, and will be 6-11 p.m. March 30 at St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center.

Big sister

Wahlin, 60, and Skjonsby, 17, of Duelm, have been matched for more than three years. They dined at a pizza joint in Foley one night. The duo talked about Skjonsby’s upcoming trip to Florida, how school is going and what they like on their pizza.

Skjonsby is in foster care. Her mother died in May 2011, after years of medical problems. Wahlin has watched the teen mature and become comfortable with herself.

“She has so much courage,” Wahlin said. “She’s been through so much. I marvel at how she’s gotten through it.”

Skjonsby credits Wahlin for always being supportive. They celebrated her acceptance this fall into St. Cloud State University. They discuss what Skjonsby could do with her life. She likes psychology. It’s her favorite class right now.

She spent a lot of time in a nursing home with her mother. Skjonsby watched how her mother’s face lit up when she would visit.

“All I know is that I want to help somebody,” she said. “It feels great when I can help someone.”

The possibilities for the teen are endless, Wahlin said. She feels proud for her little sister’s accomplishments.

Skjonsby just smiles shyly. She appreciates the praise and how Wahlin pushes her to excel.

Wahlin deserves this honor, she said.

“She’s perfect,” Skjonsby said. “With everything I’ve been through, I know Shari will be around no matter what.”

Big brother

Morcelli Kombo, a 17-year-old from St. Cloud, showed off his first sports coat on a Friday night at a coffee shop. His big brother of five years, John Kokula, bought it for him.

Kokula, 69, of Sartell watched Kombo develop into a young man who loves to learn and prides himself on manners.

“His mother has done a wonderful job raising this young man,” Kokula said.

They learn about the U.S. government and geography. They watch movies, shop at the mall and even sometimes go to church together.

The duo also like to cook together. Kombo dreams of becoming a chef. He recently made Kokula his chicken noodle soup. It tasted wonderful, Kokula said.

Kombo carefully explained how he made his soup. He doesn’t keep any ingredients secret. He wants others to be able to make his recipes.

“People need to eat,” Kombo said. “It’s a good skill to have in case you’re independent, and you don’t have someone to cook with.”

Kokula joined Big Brothers Big Sisters after his son survived a life-threatening car crash in 2007. He cared for Alex, now 24, and afterward wanted to thank people for helping him.

Kokula prayed to God about finding a way to give back.

He was pumping gas one day when he saw a Big Brothers Big Sisters advertisement.

“I made the call,” he said. “The rest is history.”


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Magic Moments Ball 2012


The Magic Moments Ball is the major fund-raising event for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota. All proceeds from this magical event help fund Big Brothers Big Sister’s youth mentoring program benefiting at-risk children in central Minnesota.

This year's gala is scheduled for Friday, March 30, 2012 at the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center (6–11 p.m.) and will include wine and beer tasting, hors d'oeuvres, an elegant gourmet dinner, a live auction, and entertainment by the Deuces Wild! Dueling Pianos, a piano variety act offering a Las Vegas-style show mix of comedy enticing extensive audience participation and featuring an unlikely and surprising mix of music and parodies.

To purchase tickets go to or contact Sharon at 320-253-1616.

Click on the photo below here to view more pictures from last years Magic Moments Ball: