Big Sister Julia and her Little Sister Madison have been matched for over four years. Madison has been living with her grandmother and brother for most of her life because both her parents have a long history of incarceration. Although Madison did pretty well in school, she was definitely lacking in the self-confidence department and needed a special adult who would spend quality time with her and not let her down.
Then in 2015 along came her new Big Sister and their relationship and Madison’s self-esteem have blossomed ever since. Julia and Madison have enjoyed doing a wide variety of activities together over the years, ranging from arts and crafts, roller skating, ice skating, fishing, making tie-dye t-shirts, bowling, going on the Screamer boat ride and seeing dolphins, checking out fall festivals and attending several BBBS Christmas parties, including one where Madison got a brand new bike for Christmas. They even built a skateboard for Madison together at another BBBS event with Boards for Bros, and Julia helped teach Madison how to skateboard!
A few years ago, Julia suggested to Madison that she participate in the BBBS “Bucket List Essay contest.” Julia asked Madison to share something she always wanted to try. Madison admitted that she admired an Olympic Gymnast she’d seen on TV and wanted to become a gymnast, too. The only problem was, her grandmother couldn’t afford gymnastics lessons. So, Julia encouraged Madison to write about her wish to become good at gymnastics. Madison did and even drew pictures of her doing gymnastics to accompany her essay and she won the contest! Madison was super excited when she was awarded 10 free gymnastic lessons. To make sure that Madison got to those gymnastic lessons, Julia drove Madison there and back each week for her lessons. Madison learned a lot during that time, including how to do a split, which she was especially proud of being able to do.
Since then Madison has continued to expand her skills in sports, including cheerleading. But when she attended the annual BBBS Mike Alstott event, Madison preferred to compete in the relay races with the boys, rather than participate in the cheerleading activities, and as with everything else, Julia was there to cheer Madison on. Recently their Match Support Specialist asked Madison to tell her three things that her Big Sister has helped her with, and Madison immediately said that she has helped her with “self-confidence, and to always stay kind.” Madison shared that the thing Julia has taught her that she will never forget is to “never give up, and keep on trying!” As if it hasn’t been enough to support her Little Sister and watch Madison’s confidence in herself grow these past four years, Julia has been an avid supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay as well. Recently she became an Ambassador for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay where she shares her experiences of being a Big Sister and encourages others at fundraising events to volunteer, too. Julia also joined the Leadership Council to give back to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay in other ways.
Learn how you can become a Big at bbbstampabay.org/be-a-big