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  • Holly Herring

In Between Treating COVID-19 Patients, Couple Still Finds Time To Be Bigs



“Cayden most definitely offers stress relief from work life. Working day in and day out with COVID-19 patients can be stressful and emotionally draining at times,” said Big Brother Dalton Miller. “However, we always look forward to spending time with Cayden and enjoying the simpler times and things in life with him.”


While most Americans were attempting to comprehend the looming pandemic in March 2020, Dalton and Lauren Miller were looking for ways to volunteer together and give back to their community. They eventually decided to become Bigs in a “Couples Match” with Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters Serving Sedgwick County. At the same time, Dalton was beginning to treat COVID-19 patients as an ICU nurse at St. Francis working 12-hour night shifts, three or four days a week.



THE MILLERS PERSPECTIVE – THE “BIGS”


Lauren and Dalton were matched with their Little Brother Cayden in April 2020 and have participated in both virtual and in-person activities. The match met virtually for the first three months during the stay-at-home orders.


Throughout their friendship, the match has participated in activities like FaceTiming, playing Fortnite, going out to eat, visiting haunted houses, bowling, go-karting, bike rides, walks, Dave and Busters, and spending time at Lauren and Dalton’s house.


“We get to be kids again with him and get out to do all the fun stuff,” said Lauren. “But he still loves doing something as simple at FaceTiming with us, too. It doesn’t have to be going out on the town and spending money. Any little thing we do is important to him because he just wants to spend time with us.”


“At first, we were a little worried about the time commitment it takes,” said Dalton. “But really, we look forward to each meeting with Cayden. We usually [meet] once every two weeks. Even if it’s just for an hour. Or even 30 minutes on FaceTime. We enjoy every minute of it, and we know it makes a big difference to him.”

What would you say to people who are on the fence about it?

“I would say that it’s not as big of a time or money commitment as you think it is. Cayden’s twin brother is still looking for a Big and that makes us really sad,” said Lauren. “There are tons of kids out there that need a positive role model in their life and if you could just take a little bit of time every month to make a difference, then I think that you’d get a lot more out of it than you think you would.”


CAYDEN’S PERSPECTIVE – THE “LITTLE”


“I love it,” said Cayden, referring to his match with Lauren and Dalton. “Because they are someone I can go to if I have troubles. They are also inspiring. And they are just fun to hang out with.”


Cayden is in a “community-based” match with Lauren and Dalton. Community-based matches have a flexible schedule and a nearly unlimited amount of activity options that range from simple walks in the park to going to local businesses in the community using their Match Discount Card. Community-based Bigs often take their Littles back to their house to include them in things they are already doing like watching a movie and eating dinner.


“I really loved it when I got to go to their house. I got to bring my football. And we got to watch Scooby-Doo. And Dalton worked on the hamburgers. And then we also played football, said Cayden. “It was just fun and enjoyable, and I really got to build a bigger relationship with them.”


Cayden added: “They make me feel happy and excited. When it’s the day that I get to see them, I think about it almost all day.”


When asked about his feelings about his grandmother enrolling him in the program, Cayden said: “My Nana told me that she signed us up for Big Brothers Big Sisters, I was super excited because I’d finally get a Big Brother. And in this case, a Big Sister, too. She’s a bonus.”


On the topic of his future, Cayden first expressed interest in a career path that could benefit him financially like a lawyer or doctor or football – a familiar tune with any 8-year-old – but then he also expressed paying it forward and helping others. “I’m also going to be a Big Brother,” said Cayden. “Having a Big Brother and Big Sister has inspired me to do it. I want to pass down the same thing I get from Lauren and Dalton to a kid when I’m older.”


Cayden continued with: “What also inspires me to be a Big Brother is that my brother is still waiting. I know people are waiting and the list is long.”

To adults who are thinking about becoming Bigs:

“You should do it. Because not only are you going to build a relationship with a kid, but you’re also helping them out by letting them be inspired by you,” said Cayden. “You get to build a relationship with them and be a role model.”


LESLIE’S PERSPECTIVE – THE GUARDIAN/GRANDMOTHER


“They have had a challenging young life so far,” said Leslie, Cayden’s grandmother.


Leslie enrolled Cayden in the KSBBBS one-to-one mentoring program because her two grandsons needed a positive male role model in their lives. “It’s just us. Those two and me. I’m, as you know, grandma, so I’m old. So, what they have for extended family are my sisters,” said Leslie. “I think, as Cayden mentioned, he had my nephew who is 25 but he left for law school three years ago. That was the only guy in their life at all. Boys need a male role model.”


Leslie shared her thoughts on KSBBBS program overall: “It’s a great program for us. Cayden looks forward to getting to spend that time with them. It’s his own. It’s, as I said, just us and there is only one of me,” said Leslie. “For him to have his own relationship with people that he cares about and admires, that’s a benefit to me.”


“You guys couldn’t have a better couple to represent [KSBBBS]. (Cayden says in the background: “PREACH!”) “We appreciate them more than they will ever know.” (Cayden says, “I agree with that, too”.)


You can be the one to make a difference in a child’s life like Lauren and Dalton. Take the first step and inquire online today.