Adam “AJ” is Big Brother to his nine-year-old Little Brother, Jaysen. Earlier this year, AJ and Jaysen were chosen by a panel of judges to be designated 2017’s “Big Brother of the Year” and “Little Brother of the Year.”
AJ said Jaysen deserves that honor “because he has grown so much from the start. I do not mean grown in size, I mean in knowledge and understanding of so many things. He is the most caring kid I know.” Jaysen has nominated two of his friends for Bens Bells awards for kindness and his nominees were chosen both times. “For a kid to take the time to write a sincere letter about friends is a kid that deserves to win an award himself,” said AJ.
Jaysen’s mother, April told AJ that every day since they started the match a year and a half ago, Jaysen gets along a lot better with his sister. And Jaysen’s father, separated from his mother, told AJ that he sees Jaysen smiling a lot more after their Big Brother/Little Brother outings.
AJ said that Jaysen has made a great impact in his life. AJ has helped him to appreciate everything they experience all the more.
Jaysen’s mom said that AJ represents all that Big Brothers Big Sisters promises in their mission statement: to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. AJ is the kind of mentor that we truly wish all of the BBBS families could experience.
Jaysen was painfully shy and deathly afraid of bigger, older children prior to his match with AJ. Jaysen desperately wanted to play sports, but had no idea how and didn’t have the confidence to try soccer, a sport that particularly appealed to him. AJ stepped in and helped Jaysen overcome his fears. Jaysen now plays soccer and love it, and he plays every season with his best friend and his sister. He also gets straight “A’s” in school.
Jaysen’s mom, April nominated AJ for the “Big Brother of the Year” award. “AJ is truly humble,” she said, “and without a doubt, he has no true idea what he has done to help shape the man my son will become.”
A Match Made in Heaven
“We are a match made in heaven and we knew it the day we met,” laughed Big Sister Alison. “I’ll never forget seeing Hazel for the very first time. She was absolutely precious with a big bow in her hair and a huge smile on her face. It was a wonderful experience.”
As they got to know each other, Alison realized that Hazel was passive and always over accommodating. “When we’d get together, Hazel would never tell me what she wanted to do or even what she wanted to eat. She always deferred to me. It really mattered to me that Hazel found the confidence to speak up for herself, so we started working on that immediately.”
Today, Hazel is not only doing well in school and has lots of friends, but Alison reports she is now self-aware and confident that her interests and preferences really matter. “It’s absolutely beautiful to see,” said Alison proudly. “Hazel continually reminds me to embrace the passionate and fiercely loyal little girl inside me,” said Alison.
“Our friendship also reminds me that we are never too young or too old to make a difference in another person’s life. Hazel has made a significant impact in my life, and I hope in a small way our friendship has made an impact in hers.”
Big Brother Stephen and Little Brother Blaze have a special friendship. “Blaze has had to deal with a number of relocations and people close to him coming in and out of his life,” said Stephen. “He’s had some real transitional moments to deal with and I believe the consistency of our relationship has really helped him.”
In 2015, Stephen had some major life changes of his own, including the birth of his first child and his enrollment in medical school. “My wife met Blaze and we discussed the relationship. We both agreed that I should continue to be his Big Brother, so we came up with a way to make this work as a family. It’s fantastic.”
“Stephen is generous and he protects me,” said Blaze. “He taught me to be nice to people, but not to talk to strangers. He also taught me to always ask before petting someone’s dog.” Blaze continued, “Stephen always asks if I’m interested and willing to go a new place. I get to make the decision. He takes care of me and respects me, that means a lot. Our favorite activities are bowling, going to the Children’s Museum, Reid Park Zoo, and definitely miniature golf!”