WICHITA, Kansas -- Big Brothers Big Sisters serves children from the time they enter kindergarten through the time they graduate high school. But for so many matches, those relationships don't end there. That's the case for 26-year-old Jonathan Sherman and members of the Wells family.
"We felt that we're going on to be Big Brother or Big Sister for the rest of his life and the rest of ours," says Randy Wells.
But there was a point when Sherman and the Wells' family lost touch. Then one day the phone rang and Randy answered.
"[Jonathan] says, 'I'm getting married.' And I said, 'Oh, who's the lovely lady?'"
It was Lucia, Jonathan's high school sweetheart, and a former Little herself.
"Wanting them to be at the wedding with us was a big thing, because they had been kind of second parents to me," said Jonathan.
The match started when Jonathan was 10 years old, new to Wichita and exposed to things no child should see.
"There was a shooting down the street from where he lived, and he'd hear gunshots at night," Randy recalls.
Randy, Marilyn and Troy Wells came into his life at just the right time. The next several years were filled with family dinners, sporting events and hunting and fishing trips.
"If you're uprooting all the time, you don't have memories anywhere," Jonathan says. "One of the biggest things with the Wells is I've got these memories now."
The memories are what they talk about and laugh about to this day as they continue to be a part of each others' lives.
Big Brothers Big Sisters hopes others will follow their lead and rediscover these relationships through the Reunite Now campaign. This experience has encouraged Jonathan and Lucia to consider becoming Bigs themselves.
"It is easily the least we could do knowing how big of an influence it made on us," Jonathan admits.
The Wells will tell you that influence goes both ways. It started 16 years ago when their family grew by one and now two.
"He was a great, great kid to work with, and he's a fine young man now. [We're] very proud of what he's done," said Randy.
If you're interested in reconnecting with a past match or Big Brothers Big Sisters go to www.reunitenow.org.
If you'd like information on becoming a Big, call 1-888-KS-4-BIGS or visit www.kansasbigs.org.