PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Before Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger safely guided his aircraft into the icy Hudson River, saving 150 lives and emerging as a hero, his wife Lorrie had already gained a degree of personal fame. A fabulous fifty-something fitness guru, she is recognized in the San Francisco Bay Area from guest appearances on local TV news and entertainment programs.
But to Sara Diskin, Lorrie Sullenberger is also a hero in her own right. Sara, now 30, was four when her mother enrolled her in Big Brothers Big Sisters. The organization helps children with single, low-income and incarcerated parents achieve in school and succeed in life. Growing up, Sara had no relationship with her father, who was in and out of prison most of her childhood.
"My mom had some really hard times and growing up was not always easy," Sara said. "I'm not sure what my life would have been like had I not had Lorrie as my 'Big Sister.'"
Lorrie and Sara are sharing their mentoring story at Big Brothers Big Sisters fundraising events, as the nation's premier mentoring network repositions itself as an organization that relies on donations to carefully match volunteer mentors with children in vulnerable circumstances. Lorrie knows firsthand the value of Big Brothers Big Sisters' professional match support before and during the term of a mentoring match in order to sustain it so that it yields strong results.
For the first 10 months of Lorrie and Sara's match, they met every weekend. Seeing the little girl came as a relief to the then-busy airline executive.
"I'd be exhausted, always wondering if I had the energy to keep my commitment to be Sara's mentor," Lorrie said. "Then I'd get to her house to pick her up and it was always so refreshing."
Lorrie would take Sara out for lunch or to her house where Lorrie and her Little Sister would play salon, complete with hair styling and manicures. Ironically, years later, Sara, now a wife and mother of two, has become a hairdresser and cosmetology instructor.
The mentoring sessions continued after Lorrie met Sully in 1986. At the couple's wedding in 1989, Sara was a flower girl. Sara and Lorrie remained close after the Sullenbergers' adopted their two children, and when the Big Brothers Big Sisters match officially ended, there was a time when the Sullenbergers' took Sara into their home.
"Our story explains what Big Brothers Big Sisters is all about; I hope it encourages people to support their work," Lorrie said.
"It really does provide opportunities that show kids that they matter, that there are options and that they deserve to be successful," Sara added.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters
For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. Most children served by Big Brothers Big Sisters are in single-parent and low-income families or households where a parent is incarcerated. As the nation's largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers ("Bigs") and children ("Littles").
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides a system of ongoing evaluation and support, which is proven by independent studies to help families by improving the odds that "Littles" will perform better in school and avoid violence and illegal activities, and have stronger relationships with their parents and others. Headquartered in Philadelphia with a network of nearly 400 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves more than 255,000 children. Learn how you can positively impact a child's life, donate or volunteer at BigBrothersBigSisters.org .
SOURCE Big Brothers Big Sisters