UA student works to make a ‘big’ difference in a child’s life

Jon+Huckins+holds+hands+with+Reegan+Wilson+on+Friday%2C+Oct.+9+at+Dove+Mountain+Park.+Rebeca+Bennett%2C+a+program+coordinator+for+BBBST%2C+said+they+are+one+of+the+cutest+matches+she+has+ever+made.+

Zi Yang Lai

Jon Huckins holds hands with Reegan Wilson on Friday, Oct. 9 at Dove Mountain Park. Rebeca Bennett, a program coordinator for BBBST, said they are one of the cutest matches she has ever made.

Chastity Laskey

After two years of waiting, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson finally matched second-grader Reegan Wilson with his “big,” UA economics senior Jon Huckins.

In March, BBBST matched 8-year-old Wilson with Huckins, and now they hang out two to three times a month for a few hours at a time.

Rebecca Bennett, the program coordinator for their match, said that out of her 65 matches, they are one of the sweetest ever, and that she’s sure Huckins will one day attend Wilson’s high school and college graduations.

Bennett said Wilson’s mom called BBBST when he was five and had expressed interest in the program, but that children have to be at least six to participate. She said his mom called back immediately after he turned six, and that unfortunately it was another year before they could find Wilson a suitable match.

She said Wilson has a single mom, and although he has an older sister, he’s the only child at home right now. Despite the two-year delay, Bennett said that his mom was so happy when she met Huckins and thought that the match was worth the wait.

“I love being a big brother. It’s just good to connect with a little guy like him,” Huckins said. “They did a really good job matching us, and I lucked out. He’s super polite, and I think that’s a testament to his mom.”

Wilson said he loves BBBST because it’s fun and Jon is the best big brother ever.

Huckins said they try to mix up the activities they do, like feeding horses, swimming and going to the Children’s Museum of Tucson — but they typically go back to sports every other time because it’s what they have in common. Huckins added that Wilson is a natural athlete.

Wilson said he was nervous at first but added that he loves playing sports and hanging out with Huckins. According to Wilson, their birthdays are only two days apart.

When asked what his favorite part about having a big brother is, Wilson looked at Huckins and said,
“Just you.”

“I really like the bond,” Huckins said. “I feel like we’ve grown really close. Even just after the first couple times we had hit it off really quick.”

Katie Kernodle, the BBBST volunteer recruitment coordinator, said the organization’s mission is to “provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported, one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.”

Kernodle said that BBBST has over 300 active matches and served 508 children in 2014.

“Being a big brother or sister doesn’t take any special skills,” she said. “You just have to be yourself, show up on time when you say you’re going to be somewhere and be that solid friend in their life.”

She also said BBBST has more than 200 boys on its waitlist right now and needs big brothers.

“You can never have too many positive people in your life as a kid,” Bennett said. “You see lives change just because of one new, healthy relationship.”

Huckins said he knows there’s a shortage of brothers and encourages more to sign up because it’s a gratifying chance to influence a child.

“It’s just a friendship, a bond. He’s going to influence you and make you a better person as well,” Huckins said.

When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, 8-year-old Wilson said, “A big brother. I think it’s going to be fun because Jon thinks it’s fun.”


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