It's a proven fact that being a Big Brother or a Big Sister can make a huge difference in a child's life with a mentor.
Children with Big mentors get better grades and have less of a chance of using drugs or getting in trouble.
Saturday at the Minglewood Hall on Madison Avenue, the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Memphis will hold its biggest fundraiser of the year, the SportsBall Black Tie, Tennis Shoe gala.
Alex Knight, Big Brother of the Year for 2013, has been a Big Brother for the past five years. The interesting thing is, every Big Brother and every Big Sister say the same thing. They say they get more out of it than their little brothers or little sisters.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is an amazing organization and the impact they have on children's lives is hard to measure.
"I actually had a coworker that was a Big Brother and Big Sister in Atlanta, Ga., and he told me how much he enjoyed that," Knight said. "I thought my doing that same thing iI'd be able to enrich the life of one child."
He thought he would make a difference in a child's life. It turned out to be that and it was something much bigger, and much better than volunteering.
"I went into it thinking it was volunteer work," Knight said. "This isn't volunteer work. People say, 'Oh, that is great, you volunteer with Big Brothers.' This has been no different than going out with a friend. That's not volunteer work. I get more out of it.
Alex's Little Brother Marquette feels the same.
"It's not volunteering," Marquette said. "It's actually you get to spend time with family and he probably might be volunteering, but I think of him like family. Being part of Big Brothers Big Sisters has changed my life because it's nice to have a brother."
"But no, I wouldn't change it for anything in the world," Knight added.
Their bond is a strong one.
"Well, everything because he supports me, he's not a friend, he's my brother," Marquette said. "I think of him as family."
"When I started it was over five years ago," Knight said. "Marquette was only (this) tall, he weighed 60 pounds, he was quiet, reserved, extremely shy. Now he is (this) tall, he's bigger than me, he's stronger than me and he won't shut up."
"Yes I used to be really, really silent," Marquette added. "I was a shy person. Not anymore. I'm a talkative person, I like to socialize with everybody."
While Knight has helped Marquette open up socially, Marquette is still trying to help him with his bowling.
"He needs to practice more. He needs to curve the ball more," Marquette said.
"He is a better bowler than me," Knight admitted. "He's always trying to get me to curve the ball. I can't do it. I'm a muscle guy. I just throw the ball straight down the lane."
Marquette says he can help Knight straighten all that out.
"Uh, yeah with a little bit of my guidance," he said.
"Marquette by far beats me, more than I beat him," Knight said. "He is a great bowler. Now he cheats, he cheats! He has more practice than me. He plays in a league, so he has advantages over me."
"He's a really good bowler, he just needs some tips," Marquette said.
"Through the years, me and Marquette we finish each other's sentences," Knight said. "It's great being a mentor with Big Brothers Big sisters, it has been a phenomenal experience."
If you are interested in being a Big Brother or Big Sister in the Mid-South, you can get information on both by calling 901-323-7636. The Big Brothers Big Sisters largest fundraiser of the year is Saturday night, July 20. The 16th Annual SportsBall is a black tie and tennis shoe gala which raises money for the organization.
The five-hour event starts at 7 p.m. To order tickets call 901-323-5440.
SportsBall Black Tie & Tennis Shoe Gala