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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When Chad Van Horn moved to Florida from Pittsburgh several years ago, he was looking for a way to connect with the community. He found that connection with Desmond.
Van Horn said he and Desmond connected over go-kart races.
“We’re racing against each other. He’s like, ‘I’m going to beat you.’ We’re going and he made me spin out. And, I made him spin out. You can tell we really connected,” Van Horn said. “We’re like ‘OK, this is definitely a long term thing.’”
Van Horn said the idea of mentoring came about because of his own upbringing.
“I’ve had many mentors growing up. I was raised by a single mother and she was awesome. When she was out working, she always made sure I had good role models which really molded who I became,” he said.
Through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County, Van Horn was linked with Desmond.
At the time, his little brother was 12 years old and thinking only about playing football.
“I was just focused on football. I wasn’t thinking about school,” Desmond said.
But Desmond said something changed.
“I had to think about what would actually happen if football didn’t work out and didn’t have my grades,” he explained.
Now as a junior in high school, Desmond’s grades have improved. Desmond still plays football, but once the season ends he goes to work at Van Horn’s law firm. Van Horn is a bankruptcy attorney.
“To be around more professional people and to be around more potential mentors and everyone in my office has just embraced him. It’s an amazing experience and he feels part of the team. I like having him around, too,” Van Horn said.
The professional environment has exposed Desmond to a whole new world.
Desmond said he now understands what it means to take “responsibility and handling stuff on your own and being there for others and being a good friend.”
He said Van Horn is a great role model for him and has nominated his big brother for the Broward Big Brother of the Year. He also said Van Horn has thought him how to think like a grown up and grow into a better man.
Van Horn said it’s a humbling honor. He thinks he was chosen because of how well Desmond is doing.
“I highly recommend Big Brother Big Sister – not just for the kids, but for the big.” Van Horn explained. “For me, it made me a more well-rounded person. It made me realize what some of my weaknesses are and what some of my strengths are. Because when you are dealing with a little brother that just doesn’t know things that you know, it’s amazing how you can see him grow and you grow at the same time.”