Family eager for Big Day at Lake

Denis Bilodeau, his wife, Chantal, and their two children have volunteered with Big Day at the Lake for six years straight.

They've always enjoyed taking children from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte for a boat ride and tubing on Lake Norman as part of the event, set this summer for July 16.

They know many of the children have never been on the water.

Children's faces light up as they walk along the dock to the Cornelius family's boat, Bilodeau said. Others are more hesitant but by the end of the day are tubing and giving a thumbs-up to signal how much fun they're having, he said.

Bilodeau said his children love volunteering with Big Day at the Lake so much that they block it out on their calendars each year. Daughter Bridget is now 22 and son Andy, 20. Both attend UNCCharlotte.

"It's just a great family event," said Bilodeau, president of Cornelius-based Aquesta Insurance Services Inc.

This year's event - Big Day at the Lake 7 - needs more boat hosts like the Bilodeaus to register for the event, which typically pairs 120-150 children with a Big Brother or Sister for the day. The children also get to fish and swim and attend a big picnic.

Over the event's first six years, Big Day at the Lake's volunteer group also has raised $356,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Dave Yochum of Cornelius, publisher of Business Today and Cornelius Today, launched the event in 2005 to provide a day of fun at the lake for children who might otherwise never have the chance.