Citi Stories Texas
People, Places and Events That Have Shaped The Lone Star State

Big Brother

Texas A&M junior Evan Weldon has been a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Brazos Valley for more than a year. Now he and his Little, Gabe, will be continuing their relationship long distance, as Evan begins his medical-school experience in Spain.


By Big Brother Evan Weldon 

I grew up splitting my time between a dairy farm in Illinois, the mountains of rural Colorado, and big-city life in urban Texas. Wherever I was, I was fortunate to always have supportive friends and family around. I remember the joy of learning to ride horses with my grandfather in Colorado and the satisfaction of helping the farm hands muck out a barn. 

Since middle school, I have raised Guide Dogs for the Blind. The club leader, Roy, was one of the kindest individuals I have ever met. Roy is the sort of person I could call in the middle of the night with a problem–dog related or not–and know that he would do his utmost to help. Through raising those dogs, I eventually started working at a veterinary clinic. Besides showing me how to draw blood and give vaccines, the doctors there actively fostered my love of medicine. 

From my parents, to Roy, to the vets at my job, I have always had someone in my life I could talk to and share my dreams with. 

 I joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Brazos Valley because I wanted the chance to be the kind of supportive, encouraging and joyful person that made such an impact on me. As a college student, I also wanted the opportunity to occasionally just hang out with a kid and enjoy some simple, childish pleasures to distract me from the pressures at school.  

My Little, Gabe, was 11 years old when I first met him almost a year ago. Our first time together culminated in tears and pain for me…and laughter for everyone else. 

After arriving at Gabe’s trailer-park home and meeting his mother, he was excited about showing me his family’s goats that lived in their backyard. I got acquainted with Gabe and his family in Spanish, which I speak fluently, as not everyone in his life spoke English. After meeting the goats, I took Gabe to a park near his home where we played our fill of sports, kicking around a soccer ball, tossing a football back and forth and flipping Frisbees, After about an hour or so, I drove him home. There, we were met by additional members of his extended family who had congregated for dinner, and they invited me to stay. I was surprised by the offer, but eager to make a good first impression, so I joined them.



"I am heartened that I can brighten someone's day–as well as my own–in such simple and yet meaningful ways."

Big Brother Evan


Part way through dinner, one of Gabe’s uncles approached me carrying a plate of grilled peppers. Grinning, he asked me in Spanish if I was willing to try something new. I am an adventurous eater. From octopus and fried tarantulas to California reapers, there is not much I won’t try. Gabe’s uncle and I added the peppers to our tacos and took our first bites together. Those peppers were hot! In fact, they were beyond hot! The pain, at least for me, built to a spectacular and debilitating level. While I was shedding tears, Gabe’s family had a good laugh.Finally, I quenched the blaze inside my mouth with fresh queso, and soon was joining in the merriment that had come at my expense. 

It was an experience of agony, relief, laughter, fun and bonding that I will never forget.  

During our future outings I got to know Gabe as a thoughtful, funny and adventurous boy. He is always eager to try new things. We have been ice skating, eaten at a Thai restaurant and even tried our hand at gymnastics! We bonded over our mutual love of soccer, and I became a regular at his soccer games. I am always impressed by his determination to learn and the cheerful attitude with which he approaches his problems. His love of learning was obvious through his excitement at sharing class chemistry projects with me or accounts of the good grades he gets in school.  

Spending time with Gabe has always been as good for me as I hope it is for him. If I have a lab report due, an impending exam, or the MCAT hanging over my head, being with Gabe takes my mind off my concerns. He helps me focus on just having fun. A big part of the positive impact I have on Gabe comes, I’ve realized, from me just being enthusiastic when I’m around him.

Together, we are happy and supportive to one other. 

I am heartened that, as a Big Brother, I can brighten someone's day–as well as my own–in such simple and yet meaningful ways. When I become a doctor, I will remember the power that genuine and heartfelt interactions can have on improving every aspect of a patient’s day. That’s one of the many important lessons my friend Gabe has helped me better understand.


After being matched for a year, Evan and Gabe will be separated for a time. Here they discuss their plans to stay in touch while Evan attends his first year of medical school in Spain.