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2021 Big Brother of the Year is Jonathan Triantos

I’m the only child in my family, and when I met JT, I needed someone to talk to, to have fun with and to get my mind off things. JT has done all of those things for me, and he became the older brother that I can look up to. Blood doesn’t make anyone family, the kind of relationship we have is that he is my brother.”—Little Brother Marcus

In 2012, Big Brother Jonathan met his match, Marcus, as part of the community-based mentoring program for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties. Jonathan and Marcus were both a bit reserved and anxious about their meeting, but they began to bond once they found common interests in watching and playing sports and video games.

Building off that interest, Jonathan decided to take Marcus to the local batting cages. Marcus had never played baseball or swung a bat before, but he was a natural from the start, hitting almost every ball like he had played his whole life. Jonathan was stunned at how well Marcus performed, and saw a newfound confidence in Marcus. Jonathan knew that self-confidence was key and, if nurtured, could help carry him through whatever journey was ahead.

A few weeks later, Jonathan found out that Marcus joined a local Little League team, so Jonathan went to every game he could make. As he watched and cheered for Marcus, he saw his confidence soar—and carry over into other aspects of Marcus’s life as well.

Then, Jonathan got the opportunity to take Marcus to his first Phillies game! At the game Marcus snagged a foul ball on his own and then received a second from a Phillies player. Jonathan didn’t think the night could get any better, and then Marcus grabbed another foul ball and turned to give it to a younger boy behind him. Jonathan said, “Seeing Marcus unselfishly share the ball and the moment with the younger boy not only warmed my heart but gave me a sense of confidence and encouragement that what I was doing was truly making a difference.”

Marcus’ journey from a reserved, anxious, and unsure kid to a confident, outgoing, and adventurous young man is what the Big Brothers Big Sisters program is all about. Marcus is now in his senior year of high school. His grades are exceptional, and he is pursuing an athletic scholarship to play basketball in college.

Together, over the last eight-plus years, Marcus and I have grown in life, knocked down numerous obstacles, and achieved many goals that we would not have been able to without our match. While we began our journey as a match in the Community Based Mentoring Program for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Marcus and I have become close friends for life. There are greater things ahead for the both of us, and Marcus and I are confident that together, anything is possible. —Big Brother Jonathan