“Everything about my Big is special,” says Little Brother Emerald about his Big Brother, Dallas.
Dallas and Emerald were matched in 2010 when Emerald was just six years old. They quickly bonded over their love of fast food and sports, playing basketball at local playground and gyms to work of those McDonald’s french fries.
Dallas’ journey with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee started when he attended the Annual Breakfast fundraiser. As he listened to the guest speakers and heard stories of young people with bright futures, he knew he wanted to become a mentor.
Emerald’s mother, Willie, enrolled Emerald in the program because she expects and demands the best from her son. And she knew he needed a positive adult male influence. Emerald also wanted a role model in his life. He wanted to rise above his circumstances and felt he needed a Big Brother to help him achieve more.
Dallas says it’s been incredible to watch Emerald grow over the last 10 years. Emerald is now 16-years-old and a junior in high school. He makes all A’s and B’s, excels in track and cross county, and treats his mother and all adults with dignity and respect. He plans for a future that includes being the first man in his family to graduate from college.
Emerald found the role model he needed in his Big Brother, Dallas. Emerald says, “Even though I think I could have been successful at school and sports by myself, Dallas gave me that extra boost I needed to keep it up and keep working hard.” He also says Dallas showed him things he wouldn’t have otherwise known, like how to be respectful, how to dress and talk appropriately, how to get hired for a job, and so much more.
10 years later, Dallas and Emerald’s typical night of hanging out still looks the same, talking and eating. But their conversations have changed. They still talk about sports, but now they talk about much tougher things too, like relationships and challenges at school and work. “I share things with him. He shares things with me and we strengthen each other,” Dallas says.
Emerald feels like Dallas is family and nothing can break their bond. By building a strong mentoring relationship, Dallas has helped Emerald realize all he can accomplish in this world. For these reasons and many more, it’s easy to see why we selected Dallas and Emerald as our 2020 Big and Little of the Year.