You broke me out of the shell I had been living in

Big Brother Mike and Little Brother Christian were matched in our program back in 1998, just before Christian's 13th birthday. Now, almost two decades later, the pair remains close and gets together as often as their schedules allow throughout the year.

Recently, the now grown-up former Little sent his Big Brother an email to express his gratitude and tell him about the difference he made in his life. Big Brother Mike was so moved, he contacted Big Brothers Big Sisters to share their story, in hopes of inspiring others to volunteer.

Here are some highlights from Christian's recent email to his former Big Brother:

Mike, I mentioned to you before how much I appreciate you, but that was really an understatement. I don't think you fully understood the circumstances about my joining Big Brothers Big Sisters. At the time, my dad was suffering from alcoholism and had a pretty bad falling out with my grandmother. She decided to not have me see him for some time after that. That's where you came in. My grandmother thought it would be a good idea to have a positive male figure in my life. She found out about the organization and signed me up.

I remember the day I met you, Mike. I remember when you walked in, and I remember one of the first outings we did together. You took me to a Phantoms game. It was the first time I had been to hockey game. I was so excited just to be there. Heck, I can even remember what you bought me. That little gesture has stuck with me all this time. That was the first time anyone had done anything like that with me, and I appreciate you so much for that.

I'm bringing this all up because I just wanted to formally say thank you, Mike. You broke me out of that shell I had been living in. You helped me experience things I probably never would have, had I not met you. The museums, galleries, sporting events, and more importantly, the time you spent with me. That was what I needed at that time in my life. Through the time my dad was in the process of fixing himself, and reintroducing him back into my life, you were always there. You helped me escape the troubles of my life that were plaguing me at the time.

I would like to, again, say thank you for always being the person you have been to me - a guide, a teacher and now a friend. I have now made it to a point in my life I never thought would have been possible."

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