Walking the Walk

Thanks to Ron, Edward is really on the move.

Ten-year-old Edward was bound to a walker, struggling in school, was shy around classmates and lacked a male role model in his life. In the four years since he’s known his Big Brother Ron, Edward has unburdened himself from the walker, improved his grades and is full of confidence. Ron pushes Edward to seize opportunities and be the best he can be, and Edward is taking full advantage of his guidance.

Because Edward is the oldest boy in his household, and one of four children, his mother, Shanti, realized that he was in need of a male role model to confide in, learn from and rely on. She reached out to Big Brother Big Sisters in search of a mentor. Through Big Brothers Big Sisters match specialist Francy, Edward was soon paired with Ron, a small business owner. Although Edward was nervous for his first meeting with Ron, Francy assisted in the transition and made everyone feel comfortable with this new experience.

Edward was born with spinal cell degeneration, which made him rely on a walker and helmet to travel around safely. Shanti explains that certain intrinsic mental and emotional insecurities accompany such reliance when you are a young boy. As Ron built Edward’s self-confidence, Edward felt that he wanted to make a big change in his life.

“I told Ron one day that I didn’t want to use a walker anymore, and Ron said ‘ok’,” Edward says. “He started to teach me about balance and strength. We would practice walking up and down the stairs. We would also go to the park and do a ton of pushups—we’d have contests to see who could do the most. I think I started to get stronger than him actually. He really pushed me, and I stopped using my walker in the beginning of this year.”

Ron pushes Edward just as hard in his academics and rewards him for outstanding performance. Every Tuesday night and many weekends, Ron tutors Edward in math, English and economics. “He’s very patient and explains everything so I can understand,” Edward says. Last year, Edward proudly graduated from eighth grade. “Before he didn’t put a lot of effort into school work. Ron was able to turn him around and make Edward focus. I think it’s a man-to-man thing.”

Due to this significant boost in Edward’s self-confidence, Shanti has noticed a marked improvement in the relationship with her son. Because he is now 14 years old, Edward uses Ron as an outlet for his question and concerns, often times pre-screening his thoughts with Ron before discussing personal issues with his mother. “When he eventually comes to me,” says Shanti, “it’s just easier for him to talk with mom once he’s gotten Ron to weigh in.”

“Ron cares a lot about Edward” Shanti continues. “Ron is like the co-pilot—he and I have a good relationship where we can discuss concerns about Edward. He comes with me to meet Edward’s teachers in school, and we try to discuss the things we feel will best help Edward.”

Edward eventually began to share his fears and aspirations with Ron, and seek his advice on how to solve problems that he was dealing with at school. He looks out for me like a real big brother,” Edward says.

Ron is showing Edward that anything is possible with hard work and focus. Edward will often visit Ron at his furniture store to see how the showroom operates, and now Edward has his sights set on entrepreneurship. “Ron has opened my mind to different opportunities,” he says. “I want to run my own chocolate business when I get older. And I want Ron to come walk around my store.”

“I feel like I can tell Ron anything,” asserts Edward. Big Brothers Big Sisters has had a very good impact on my life.” Ron and Edward also have fun playing tag and going to see the newest movies.

“When mentorship is done right, it doesn’t take a lot to make a kid happy,” Shanti explains. “Children want time and attention. I was lacking time because I have four children. Ron takes time to be with Edward, and that was not something that Edward was used to. Big Brothers Big Sisters was able to step in and not only create a future for my son, but also support me as a mother.”

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