First Impressions

Evan and Gabe

I joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Brazos Valley because I wanted the chance to be the kind of supportive, encouraging and joyful person that made such an impact on me. As a college student, I know how important having someone in your corner is. I wanted to be there to listen to Gabe's dreams and push him to go after them. 

 

My Little, Gabe, was 11 years old when I first met him almost a year ago. Our first time together culminated in tears and pain for me…and laughter for everyone else.

 

After arriving at Gabe's home, I got acquainted with Gabe and his family and was excitedly taken on a house tour where I was introduced to his pet goats who were eating grass in the backyard. Later, I took Gabe to a park near his home where we played our fill of sports, kicking around a soccer ball, tossing a football back and forth and flipping Frisbees. After about an hour or so, I drove him home and was graciously invited to stay for a home-cooked meal.

 

Part way through dinner, one of Gabe’s uncles approached me carrying a plate of grilled peppers. Grinning, he asked me if I was willing to try something new. Being an adventurous eater, there is not much I won't try. Gabe’s uncle and I added the peppers to our tacos and took our first bites together. Those peppers were hot! In fact, they were beyond hot! The pain, at least for me, built to a spectacular and debilitating level. While I was shedding tears, Gabe’s family had a good laugh. Finally, I quenched the blaze inside my mouth with fresh queso, and soon was joining in the merriment that had come at my expense.

 

It was an experience of agony, relief, laughter, fun and bonding that I will never forget. 

 

During our future outings I got to know Gabe as a thoughtful, funny and adventurous boy. He is always eager to try new things. We have been ice skating, eaten at a Thai restaurant, and even tried our hand at gymnastics! We bonded over our mutual love of soccer, and I became a regular at his soccer games. I am always impressed by his determination to learn and the cheerful attitude with which he approaches his problems. His love of learning was obvious through his excitement at sharing class chemistry projects with me or accounts of the good grades he gets in school. 

 

Spending time with Gabe has always been as good for me as I hope it is for him. If I have a lab report due, an impending exam, or the MCAT hanging over my head, being with Gabe takes my mind off my concerns. He helps me focus on just having fun. A big part of the positive impact I have on Gabe comes, I’ve realized, from me just being enthusiastic when I’m around him.

 

Together, we are happy and supportive to one other.

 

I am heartened that, as a Big Brother, I can brighten someone's day–as well as my own–in such simple and yet meaningful ways. When I become a doctor, I will remember the power that genuine and heartfelt interactions can have on improving every aspect of a patient’s day. That’s one of the many important lessons my friend Gabe has helped me better understand.