News: 'Big' airmen make impact for local children
Story by Senior Airman Katrina Brisbin
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. - As gray Kansas skies poured out rain, 50 "Littles" paired up with airmen, "Bigs," in Hangar 1107 for a day activities.
The Sedgwick County chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters visited McConnell AFB for an annual "Big for a Day" event and didn't let the weather get in the way of fun Aug. 9, 2013.
"Typically this event is hosted by the 349th Air Refueling Squadron," said Capt. Taylor Zahm, 349th ARS scheduling chief. "This year, 22 different base agencies are represented. Nearly every aspect of base is being represented in some way."
The BBBS program provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better. McConnell AFB is one of the national top three ranking bases that support BBBS.
While at McConnell, the "Littles" were matched with airmen, "Bigs."
The children learned about the 22nd Air Refueling Wing's mission while participating in various activities, including a KC-135 Stratotanker static display tour, watching a military working dog demonstration and donning fire protective gear from the base's fire department.
"We've been doing this for six years now," said Alicia Rivas BBBS area program director. "It's a great experience for our kids and great opportunity for the airmen."
The "Littles" also had the opportunity to get their hands on specialized military equipment, participated in a scavenger hunt, had lunch and bowled with their "Bigs."
One of the event's goals was to find possible matches for the children among the eager airmen.
"This is a great way for some of our waiting 'Littles' to spend some time with an excellent role model and have some fun," said Jennifer Koftan BBBS community impact coordinator. "Spending quality time, talking and sharing experiences makes a huge impact on our 'Littles.'"
Not only do days like this impact the "Littles," they also make an impression on the "Bigs."
"The favorite part of the day for me was seeing my 'Little' smile," said Airman 1st Class Jacob Murphy, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. "Days like this gives [airmen] a chance to feel that, even though we're 'just airmen,' we can make a difference in someone's life."
The day ended with hugs, high-fives and a loud collective "thank you" from all the children.
"They're going to remember this forever," said Koftan. "They're going to remember the fun stuff as well as spending time with their 'Big' and feeling important."