June 2018 is a special time for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley. This is the month that the agency will be celebrating the graduation of its most longstanding match: Gary and Roy.
It was nine years ago in April 2009 when Gary, a resident of Bath, first met Roy, who lived nearby in Coplay with his mother. Roy’s mother Mariann had initially contacted BBBSLV after the passing of Roy’s father, sensing that her son would need the support of a caring adult male role model as he journeyed through childhood. Gary, who has two daughters of his own, contacted BBBSLV about mentoring when his daughters were almost out of the house and he knew he would have the time to help a child in the community.
While Roy was initially shy, it didn’t take long for Gary and Roy to bond over their common interest in the outdoors. Gary often commented that they are a good pair because “we’re both outdoorsmen.” As much as their common interests originally bonded them together, their ability to grow together kept them connected as Roy advanced from childhood through his teenage years, to now being a young adult headed to college.
When Roy started high school, he became very involved in the high school band as a trombone player. Much of his time was devoted to band practice and then playing at his high school games. Gary would say, “These days, I go where Roy is…the football games!” Gary and his wife faithfully attended the high school football games each Friday night, proudly cheering on Roy and the marching band.
Gary was honored as the BBBSLV Big Brother of the Year in 2016, and when he accepted his award, he jokingly told the audience, “When I first started meeting with Roy, he was little enough to be in a car seat. Now we are talking politics when I pick him up!” Things came full circle this past spring, as Gary helped Roy prepare for his driver’s license test. Roy passed the test with flying colors, and, with Gary’s help in mastering the dreaded parallel parking, Roy is now proudly driving to work at a local amusement park each day.
Roy is headed off to college this fall but there is no doubt that Roy and Gary will remain in touch. Gary has already mentioned heading out to see Roy at college once he gets settled. Roy has told BBBSLV that he counts Gary as one of most supportive adults in life and has noted that Gary really taught him the value of family, and most importantly of helping others.
Mariann summed it up best saying, “There is no other person you could have matched Roy with. He and Gary are two peas in a pod.