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Big Brothers, Big Sisters of CR looking to fill roster of "Sports Buddies"


Rob Gettemy and Julian have spent the past four months bonding over fishing as part of their Big Brothers, Big Sisters connection.
Rob Gettemy and Julian have spent the past four months bonding over fishing as part of their Big Brothers, Big Sisters connection.
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Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Cedar Rapids is still in need of volunteer mentors, or bigs. When we spoke to the group in February, around 177 eastern Iowa kids were still waiting to be paired with a big.

"We have a lot of great kids that are wanting to join Big Brothers, Big Sisters and most of 'em are boys," says president/CEO Linda Henecke. "So we're really hoping to attract men to our program."

Henecke says that's a big reason behind a new program called Sports Buddies.

"Sports buddies makes it easier because we've planned activities," Henecke says.

Bigs and their "littles" can choose from two pre-planned group activities a month.

"We've got football and volleyball, pickleball planned as well," Hencke says.

Or they can choose to do something a little more relaxed on their own time, like Rob Gettemy and Julian.

"Got a lot of fish following it, I can see them," Gettemy says as the two fish the Jones Park pond. "Not hungry today."

Gettemy and Julian have spent the last four months becoming buddies, mostly by fishing.

"He was catching a bunch of fish and I wasn't and he started talking trash I knew we were buddies at that moment," Gettemy says.

Julian had never cast a line or baited a hook before.

"Yeah, he's a natural," Gettemy says.

Gettemy signed up with his wife as part of a family mentorship; bigs can also choose to sign up with a friend, to each be matched with a little they can do group activities with.

"Our idea of sports has been more outdoor recreation," Gettemy says. "But I love the concept of the program because it pulls together people with similar interests, the little and the big."

The commitment is at least one activity a month for six months, but Gettemy says he and Julian get together about twice a week. Now it's less commitment and more connection.

"For us, we've done things we love and we've discovered some new things," Gettemy says. "I'm 57 years old and I'm traipsing through creeks looking for crawdads, we caught a snake. All kinds of things."

"Kids really enjoy having someone who doesn't have to be part of their life but chooses to be," Linda says.

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