Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City announced today that Scott Cruce, a Kansas City Big Brother, has been selected as the 2012 Missouri Big Brother of the Year. Three successful Little Brothers, thousands of dollars raised for Big Brothers Big Sisters, hundreds of Bigs recruited and countless lives have forever changed thanks to Scott.
Scott Cruce, a 27 year old sports producer first became a Big Brother in 2002. Jesse, Scott’s first little brother, was enrolled in the program shortly after Jesse had lost his father to a sudden illness. Scott and Jesse had a great relationship but about a year into the Match Jesse and his mom moved out of state. Scott and Jesse lost touch for a while but, thanks to Scott’s initiative, the two recently reconnected.
Not long ago BBBS-KC received an e-mail from Jesse’s mom expressing her gratitude towards the BBBS program and her son’s Big Brother Scott. “Scott has been a happy memory for me and Jesse over the last 10 years. I cannot thank him enough for that. Scott has not only changed Jesse’s lives but all of our lives forever.” In fact, Jesse now attends Scott’s alma mater and just became Scott’s Brother on another level by joining the same fraternity.
After Jesse moved Scott was matched with his second Little Brother, Steven. Steven’s parents divorced and his dad lived in another city, making it difficult to get together often. Scott immediately stepped in and became a positive role model for Steven. When they were first matched Steven lacked self confidence and was an average student, but Scott encouraged him, exposed him to many new things and talked to him about the importance of focusing on school and continuing his education. Steven says Scott opened up new avenues for him, “He encouraged me to play sports in high school and he did his best to attend many of my games. He also shared the values with me that he was taught by his parents. Since he thought it was important that I think about college in my teenage years, he gave me a tour of two college campuses. Scott encouraged Steven with the message, “finish what you start: work hard and it will pay off.”
With Scott supporting and motivating him, Steven thrived through high school, and his confidence and grades soared. Steven’s mom says Scott’s influence was a big part of this shift. Steven is now 19 and attends a local community college in Kansas City with a goal of working in the physical education field. Scott and Steven are still very close and call each other often just to chat. Steven says Scott has always been someone he could ask for advice on friends, sports, school or girls.
Two years into his match with Steven, Scott was approached by BBBS-KC about a new position solely responsible for recruiting volunteers. Scott left his sports radio job and became BBBS-KC’s Recruiter in May of 2005. Scott brings his enthusiasm for being a Big Brother to each and every potential volunteer that he encounters. Since joining the staff Scott has increased volunteer applications by 54% and increased Big Brother applications by 60%. Scott has been with BBBS-KC for seven years and through this position has recruited hundreds of Bigs to make the life changing decision to become a mentor.
A few months into his new job with BBBS-KC Scott decided to take on another Little Brother in the Match+1 program. Scott was matched with 7-year-old Kyle in June of 2005. Kyle was raised by his grandparents and had no contact with his father or his mother. Despite his grim circumstances Kyle was a happy-go-lucky kid with whom Scott immediately connected. Kyle struggled with his grades, lacked self esteem, and frequently exhibited behavior problems that affected his schoolwork.
During their first few outings together, Kyle’s first question when Scott picked him up was, “when are you coming back.” Kyle was so accustomed to people coming in and out of his life and not sticking around that he was worried that Scott was going to do the same. Scott and Kyle have now been matched for 6 years. Kyle says, “Scott has been a father figure to me. He’s helped me maintain good grades and talked to me about furthering my education. He has taught me the game of football and signed me up to play on my first football team. He comes to my games and cheers me on. I look up to Scott and I hope to be like him one day.” Today Kyle has improved in almost every area possible. He no longer has behavior problems. He is overcoming his distrust of people and is making A’s and B’s in school. He has set goals for his future that include attending college. Maybe he will even pledge Scott’s fraternity!
As a Big Brother and BBBS employee Scott is often asked to speak at corporate meetings, United Way rallies and to the media about his experience. At one recent United Way speaking engagement, Kyle went, too. When Scott was finished the crowd asked Kyle what he thought of his Big Brother. Kyle replied, “Scott is my hero. I really look up to him and I want to be like him one day.” A true testament to the impact Scott has had on Kyle.
In addition to being an excellent Big Brother and staff member Scott is a fundraiser for the agency raising over $15,000 for BBBS-KC over the past 7 years through Bowl for Kids’ Sake. He is also a yearly Friendship Foundation donor to the organization. His commitment to BBBS-KC and his Littles are truly changing lives in our community for the better.