CBS4 News is featuring a special series of reports this holiday season called the 12 Days of Christmas. The following story is written by CBS4’s Michael Spencer.
DENVER (CBS4) – As JaVaughn McCauley and Evan Bekkedahl are running up and down the floor on a quiet night at the Downtown YMCA, there is no score being kept, but the sweat running off their faces lets you know the game is intense.
Even though McCauley is more than 10 years younger than Bekkedahl the two have become fast friends thanks to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado.
McCauley has been in the program for more than six years, and the impact on his life is immeasurable.
“My neighborhood is not the best neighborhood to live in, so I had a lot of bad influences. My mom decided to get me into this program, so I could have a good influences,” said McCauley.
McCauley’s two younger siblings are also in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program.
“I’m way more mature than I use to be,” McCauley said of the role Big Brothers Big and Sisters has played in his life.
“I’ve seen my person growth go from a shy little kid, to now I’m doing snowboarding for the first time. I’m doing all this other stuff I never thought I’d be able to do.”
Bekkedahl, who’s an attorney in Denver, got into the program more than three years ago after seeing the impact it had one of his friends.
“It’s had a huge impact on my life,” said Bekkedahl. “You don’t realize that when you get into something like this, but it’s extremely rewarding.”
Recently, the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado announced a partnership to provide no-charge YMCA memberships to mentors and children involved in the program.
The partnership will allow up to 700 “matches” visit the YMCA when they’re together providing them access to recreational areas, gyms, and pools, and allowing them a safe, and warm place to meet.
For matches like Bekkedahl and McCauley that means more one-on-one games are sure to come, not just this year, but for years to come.
“JaVaughn’s going to be a friend of mine for life,” said Bekkedahl.