Harvard Athletes Team Up to Change Lives in Boston
In the Spring of 2012 Luis Gallardo had just finished up a season rowing for the Harvard Men’s Lightweight Crew Team, and decided to become a Big Brother. Little did he know that his decision to step up and volunteer could make such a lasting impression on not only his Little’s life, but the rest of his teammates as well.
After hearing about the 800 boys waiting for a mentor in the Boston Community alone, Gallardo set up an event at Harvard with a panel discussion about the Big Brothers program. He invited 35 guys to his event and many of them were from the team. It was that event in 2012 that spurred crew member Ted McKlveen to sign up to be a Big Brother. In 2013 McKlveen became a co-chair leader of the Big Brothers chapter that Gallardo started in the Fall of 2012.
This past fall, Ted McKlveen and rowing captain and Big Brother Alexander Bonorris decided to go to their coach and suggest that Big Brothers was something worthwhile for the entire team.
“This program has given us another way to connect in an environment apart from athletics, strengthening the cohesiveness of the team while serving a greater purpose,” said McKlveen.
Coach Michiel Bartman agreed immediately, “If my rowers have the time to volunteer and give back to the community, I certainly encourage them to do so,” Bartman said.
As of now, twelve men associated with the Harvard Lightweight Crew Team have become Big Brothers. Every one of them serves as a mentor to a boy in need and their decision to Add a Little not only changed their lives but also the lives of their Little Brothers.
“Being a collegiate athlete requires working together toward the goal of a successful season. Our team’s involvement with Big Brothers has given us a new goal to strive for, one that is compassionate instead of competitive,” said McKlveen.
Coach Bartman sees the value in his athletes as competitors and as mentors. “Athletes make great mentors as they usually are more responsible and tend to be an example for members on our own team,” Bartman said. “Being involved with BBBSMB as a team is important to the Harvard Lightweight Rowing Team and I certainly want to encourage other programs to get involved as well. The impact can be everlasting and can create the right encouragement somebody is looking for.”
The Harvard Lightweight Crew Team joins a list of other college athletics teams as an official partner of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay Collegiate Athletics Initiative.
These athletes take time out of their hectic schedules so that they can make a profound impact by mentoring. They know that the lessons that they teach these boys and the moments that they share with them will forever be special.