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.
"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.