For more than 45 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Siouxland has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. To help children realize their potential, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Siouxland launched “Bigs with Badges” last year to match law enforcement personnel with young people. Their first match was between Sergeant Tom Gill of the Sioux City Police Department, and his Little (or mentee), Ben.

Ben had been waiting for a mentor for three years before being matched with Tom. Ben’s patience paid off as him as he and Tom quickly became friends due to their shared love of physical activity.

“We usually meet a couple times a week. A lot of times, Ben likes to go to our police training center. We have a lot of area where we can do fun things. We have a mat room in there where we can wrestle.  Ben is very into Taekwondo so he can practice that in there and do his kicks,” Tom shares.

From hitting the gym to soccer games to Taekwondo practice, Ben is always on the go, but Tom doesn’t struggle to keep up with him. “That’s one of the big things that I tell people. Everybody has that excuse that they’re too busy. Well as a police officer, a high school track coach, and a father there’s always time,” Tom advises.

Even when Tom is not able to be there for Ben, they find a way. “Once, Big Brothers Big Sisters were visiting a fire station and I was away at a training. Ben really wanted to go to the fire station, so my 22-year-old son Cade took him. Ben also hangs with Cade quite a bit and I take Ben to my other son Carter’s track meets, wrestling matches, football games, and music concerts too.” Ben and Tom stay in contact through the phone while Ben is away for the summer, ensuring that their match stays strong even when they’re 14 hours away from each other.

When asked what advice he has for other potential mentees who aren’t sure about getting a big, Ben says, “You can do a lot of fun activities together.” Tom adds that they always try to do fun things together, such as the time Ben chased after wild turkeys, or rollerbladed with Tom’s dog Vader.

Together, the two inspire others to make the time to become mentors and have a great time.

If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, inquire here: