Bowl for Kids’ Sake was held by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oneida, Herkimer and Madison Counties this weekend. The organization’s goal is to help children facing adversity by pairing them with adult mentors. Our Alana LaFlore explains how the friendships benefit everyone involved.
UTICA, N.Y. -- Big Brothers Big Sisters has had a chapter in the Mohawk Valley for 32 years. Money raised at the event will be used to match up bigs and littles. All adult mentors are carefully screened before they can spend time with a child.
There are about 80 children waiting to be matched with big brothers and sisters. The littles typically come from single-parent homes. A duo spends time together a few days a week.
A former little brother came out to the event to pay it forward and remember his big brother.
"I’ve had a rough life, dealing with alcohol and drugs," said Jody Colon. "If it wasn’t for him I would have probably ended up dead or in jail."
Colon was raised by his grandparents who got him involved in the program when he was ten.
A national study revealed children who participate are more likely to perform well in school and are less likely to behave violently. Having a big brother or sister can give children skills to bring into adulthood.
"If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be able to be a good parent to my son," said Colon as he reflected on the relationship with his big.
Not only does Big Brothers Big Sisters give kids an opportunity for success, it can also give them life-long friendships.
When asked how many little brothers he had over the years, Thomas Wynn's face lit up.
"I’ve only had one. That’s it right here," said Wynn as he pointed to Colon. "We hit it off so well. We’ve stayed together."
Wynn and Colon were one of the first duos in the local chapter. They've been friends for 32 years. Two years into their friendship, Colon’s grandfather passed away, leaving him sad and scared, but he never felt alone.
"I was confused didn’t know how to handle it," said Colon. "And Tom was really supportive of me. He stuck by me through the whole thing. And if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have gotten through it."
Wynn says becoming a big brother is one of the best decisions he’s ever made.
"It’s amazing to see him and then him to have a family," said Wynn. "We’ve been together so long I feel part of his family so does he feels part of my family too. It’s been a lot of fun."
Through tragedy and triumph, they’ve been there for each other.
The duo's strong connection motivates them to donate their own time and money, so other pairs can get matched up.