From The Mountaineer, January 3, 2018
Read the full article in the Mountaineer HERE
Kevin Sandefur’s involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) began long before he hosted the first annual Corn Hole Tournament to benefit the organization at Canton’s BearWaters Brewing, which he co-owns.
Sandefur was a Big Brother for the program nine years earlier in his life until his “Little” graduated from Owen High School in 2006.
BearWaters sponsored a tournament in August 2012 for the Big Brother Big Sisters program where director Martha Barksdale first met Tommy Heindl, now 30, who has attended every BBBS Corn Hole fundraiser event since that time.
Later, Barksdale and her husband were dining at BearWater’s when they saw Heindl and his mom, Stephanie.
“As they were getting out of the car, I saw the warm welcome that Kevin gave them both. A while later, knowing that Tommy lives in Buncombe County, I asked Kevin if is this the only time of year he saw Tommy?” Barksdale said. “Kevin explained that they were like family, and they saw each other regularly. Tommy is now 30 and the friendship didn’t stop after the Big Brothers Big Sisters match ended.”
Stephanie Heindl told Barksdale how the lasting relationship began. Sandefur was a registered nurse through Care Partners when Tommy was in the second grade. Sandefur met Tommy while doing home health care for a long-term medical condition.
They became instant friends.
“Kevin later told me that when he arrived at the home, Tommy was watching Bob Villa’s “This Old House,” which impressed him,” Barksdale said, adding that he explained most second-graders would be watching cartoons or playing video games.
Sandefur learned from the family that Tommy was on the waiting list to get a Big Brother, but that they were giving up hope.
A few weeks later, Stephanie Heindl got a phone call from Big Brothers Big Sisters saying they had an approved adult mentor for her son, who happened to be Sandefur.
Sandefur’s medical background made him not only a great role model and allowed him to participate in activities he would never have been able to tackle otherwise, Barksdale said.
Even though Heindl has aged out of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, Sandefur and Heindl have become life-long friends, sometimes celebrating holiday events together, such as last Thanksgiving when Heindl joined the Sandefur family. The pair meet up for other activities, too, such as Jaguar football games.
In addition to regular visits, the pair stay connected through texting and Facebook.
After high school, Heindl attended A-B Tech, studying career management. He has worked for Court Yard Marriott for more than 10 years.
“Sandefur has had a life-changing impact on Tommy, who has always looked up to him and often calls him up for advice or to simply talk,” Barksdale said. “Kevin considers Tommy part of his family.”
For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters, contact Martha Barksdale at 828 273-3601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
January is National Mentoring month and BBBS is recruiting male and female volunteers.