WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) - Graduation is a major milestone, and at Big Brothers Big Sisters, it's a reason for both Bigs and Littles to celebrate. Mark Davidson stopped by a recent party to honor the next round of high school grads and celebrate the impact their Bigs had on getting them there.
The night was equal parts laughter and tears. Too many times these success stories seemed unlikely, if not impossible, but Big Brothers Big Sisters provided a different path.
"I don't know if I would have graduated high school because it's hard," 18-year-old Nikki said. "It's not easy."
"(I probably would have ended up) behind a cell," Brandon told us.
Nikki and her Big Sister have been matched for 11 years. Jessika remembers when Nikki struggled with self-confidence because of adversity in her life. Now she's headed to college with hopes of becoming a grade school teacher.
"She's turning into a woman who's been able to struggle through some situations and run through the finish line with her hands in the air and say, 'man I did that,'" Jessika said.
In fact, she's moving in with Jessika's family because it's closer to her new school.
"She's just another addition to the family," Nikki said. "She's like an aunt to me or like a second mom in a way."
For Brandon and his Big, Corey, their ten years together has included both ups and downs.
"My dad passed away when I was five and I was acting out in a way to get my aggression out," Brandon recalled. "He showed me different ways to handle that."
From hunting trips to football games, Corey was that positive male role model Brandon was missing. And as he faces a new set of challenges, he continues to lean on Corey's example.
"Getting my GED is one of my main goals right now, not just for myself, but for my daughter," Brandon said.
"I asked him tonight, I said, 'do you still hear my voice in your head on occasion. You shouldn't have done that; you should do this. Go do this,'" Corey told us.
Those lessons never go away. So even as their time in Big Brothers Big Sisters officially wraps up, it's clear Nikki and Brandon will be guided by their Bigs for years to come.
If you'd like to be more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters, just call 1-888-KS-4-BIGS or go to www.kansasbigs.org.
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