Smiling faces and kids bobbing in life jackets are standard on Lake Norman. But for the children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program of Greater Charlotte, A Big Day at the Lake is a chance to indulge in time and attention from their mentors and some Cornelius residents.
"I feel like it's something positive to do with my spare time. I get self-satisfaction in knowing I make a difference in Christian's life. He makes it easy to spend time with him. He tells me all the time that he appreciates that I take the time to spend with him," said Ed Smith, 32, who has been a Big Brother to Christian Turner, 9, since January.
They joined other teams of young people and their mentors for a day of swimming, tubing and fun on Lake Norman on July 24 for A Big Day on the Lake 6. More than 140 Big Brothers Big Sisters matches were hosted on 85 boats for a morning of fun before heading to the EnergyExplorium in Huntersville for a picnic.
"I like being a Big Sister. It gives me an opportunity to be a positive role model in somebody else's life and I want to give her experiences. ... And she can teach me stuff too," said Ashley Kane, 29, of her time with her Little Sister, Takailah Grighy, 6.
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"I always enjoyed it and I just think it's a great cause," said Niko Kruger, 33, who has been involved in the BBBS program since 2003.
"I'm excited because all of the Big Brothers get to come together and have a great time at the lake," said Quincy Evans, 8, as he played with his Big Brother, Kruger.
More than a thousand children are served by BBBS in Charlotte every year, and 500 more are on the waiting list for mentors The most critical need is for African American Big Brothers.