For those of you who don’t know, I used to be involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for about 4 years back in high school. I was the “Big” to a little 7 year old boy named David. David’s story is a unique and unfortunate one, which I will share here shortly, but I got a chance to visit them yesterday for the first time after 7 years, and I wanted to share with you all my experience.
First, let me share why I decided to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters. When I was in high school, I felt the need to give back to the community and help the less fortunate in some way, and for some reason I was drawn to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Maybe it was because I knew that I could have a positive impact on young children who needed direction since I was raised properly by my parents or grandparents, but whatever the reason, that’s the direction I felt God was leading me in. When I met David and his grandma for the first time, I could immediately tell that they have had a tough life to this point. When they started to share their story, I discovered I was right.
David and his sister Lexi were abandoned by their parents at a very young age and left with their grandma Donna to take care of them. That’s tough in itself, but there was more to it. When Lexi was a baby, she was in the backseat of the car as her father was driving, and he got into an accident, paralyzing Lexi from the neck down. The father and mother abandoned them both, leaving Donna with one heck of a responsibility of taking care of Lexi and trying to be both a mother and father to both children at the same time. Donna decided that it would be good for David to have a positive male influence in his life, so she signed up for the BBBS program, and I was assigned to him as his “Big.”
For 4 years I mentored David, taught him lessons that I had learned when I was young, and tried to be as positive of an example as I could be. Unfortunately, the father came back into the picture and I was heading off to college, which sort of forced me to take a step back and eventually stop being David’s “Big.” Throughout those 4 years though, I had experienced the greatest feeling of fulfillment by being able to have some sort of positive impact on David’s life, and ultimately that’s what led me to become a Beachbody Coach, so that I could experience that feeling again.
I hadn’t talked to David or his family for 7 years, but last week I felt a need to reach out to them. That family had such a major impact on my life and I wanted to see how things were going for them, so I looked them up and gave them a call. It was strange talking to David because he was no longer the little boy that I knew, but now a young man. He talked to me about what he’s been doing, playing football, hanging out with his girlfriend, and spending time with his friends, and it seemed like things were going very well for him. He couldn’t believe how much I have changed either, starting my own business, being in the P90X2 videos, getting married and having a child, and quite frankly, I felt old! LOL! I promised him that we would come visit him, so that’s exactly what we did yesterday.
When we got there, Donna answered the door and she had a wonderful smile on her face and was glad to see me. David was running around the neighborhood, but came back about 15 minutes we got there, and when I saw him for the first time I barely recognized him! He was tall, had long hair, and looked like a teenager. We sat down and talked for about an hour, and it was nice to catch up with him, seeing that he was in fact doing well. It was Lexi, though, that left me inspired.
When we first got there, we went into Lexi’s room so that I could say “hi” to her and introduce her to Melinda and Madison. Unfortunately, she didn’t remember me because she was so young at the time, but of course I remembered her very well. From the time I walked in to the time we left the house, though, she had the brightest, most positive smile that anyone could have! She was happy, loving life, making the best out of the circumstances that have controlled her life. From her smile to how she was talking to us, you would have NO IDEA that she was paraplegic! She wasn’t letting her disability hold her back from anything, and she has been going to school, getting straight “A’s” (although she got her first “B” and was upset :)), making friends, reading books, playing on the internet, using her mouth and a spoon to navigate, and is about to start traveling as well, as she is heading down to Disney World and Universal Studios here in the next few months. Then, as we were leaving, she did something that just ripped at our hearts, and told Madison that she could choose any toy she wanted in the entire house and take it home with her. Her grandma went on to say that anytime a young child comes over, Lexi always allows them to take home one of her toys. Of course we didn’t refuse, so Madison picked out a big Dora doll, and Lexi was thrilled to be able to give it to her. Wow. I got choked up when we were leaving, and I left their house with a new appreciation for life. I was inspired by a 12 year old, a girl who could have every reason to be sad, down, but rather is positive, happy, giving, and thankful for being alive.