By Natalie Zarowny
2-and-a-half years ago, successful Davenport lawyer Ralph Heninger decided there was something missing in his life.
"My kids had left the nest and I always admired my wife for the work that she did as a teacher and thought that this would be one way to give back," said Ralph.
As part of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program, Ralph got matched with Tyree, a 10-year-old with a knack for sports.
"I'd like to be a baseball player or a football player when I grow up," said Tyree.
Together, they began to build a relationship.
One day, Ralph decided to introduce Tyree to his favorite activity, water skiing.
"I've taught a lot of kids how to water ski. So when Tyree and I got matched I told him about that and I think he set it as a goal of his to learn how to water ski," said Ralph.
And did he ever.
Last summer the two started learning. But Ralph said it's this summer Tyree's really gotten the hang of it, and grown to love it.
"Getting up and feeling the wind on you," recalls Tyree.
"Most of it is just having the right attitude and having the courage to hang on and let the boat pull you out of the water," said Ralph.
And for Tyree, doing activities with Ralph has been a big help, in more ways than one.
"He taught me how to be a nicer person and what I should do in my life," said Tyree.
Ralph's advice to other Big Brothers and Sisters? Find your water skiing, and share it with your Little.
"It may be cooking, it may be sewing, in my case one of my passions was water skiing. So I just chose that as something to offer to Tyree as an experience," said Ralph.
Later this month, Big Brothers, Big Sisters is holding their 25th anniversary picnic at Modern Woodmen Park.
Where former Bigs and Littles can reunite for a day of fun.
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