Keyvonte was nine years old when he joined Big Brothers Big Sisters because his mom wanted to make sure he had someone in his life that he really connected with.
Fast forward four years and Keyvonte doesn’t just have one person to connect with – he has five.
Keyvonte matched with the Burns family of Sartell in 2018. Hilary and Bryan Burns and their children – Addie, Caitlyn, and Alex – had been looking for a way to give back to the community as a family, and heard about BBBS through a staff member. The family signed up together right away, and were matched with Keyvonte – who they all affectionally call Key – a short time later. Now, the Burns family is the 2023 Central Minnesota Big Family of the Year.
The first meeting with Keyvonte wasn’t easy. Hilary remembers thinking that her family was nervous to meet him, so she couldn’t imagine how he felt when all five of them walked into the room together. He was quiet and shy, but over the course of their four-year match, the family has been patient and watched as he’s opened up to them and others in his life.
Now, the family involves Keyvonte as much as they can in their active lifestyle. The group of six enjoys going to the YMCA to play basketball, they cook and play games together, and they attend many BBBS sponsored events. Keyvonte is on two different basketball teams, and he has five cheerleaders in the stands whenever they can make it to games.
Each of the Burns children enjoys different things about spending time with Keyvonte. Alex is in seventh grade, and he and Keyvonte spend a lot of time outside throwing the football around or playing basketball together. Addie, a senior in high school, enjoys helping him with schoolwork and watching him learn and pick up on new ideas. Caitlyn, a sophomore, has enjoyed watching Keyvonte grow as a person and noticing how much more comfortable he is with the family and how his confidence level has grown.
The three Burns children have come to understand that being a part of BBBS is much more than just hanging out and having fun with another kid – it’s about sharing their life and experiences with Keyvonte, and learning from what he shares. Working around the busy schedules of four teenagers has made it harder for the Burns family and Keyvonte to get together as a group of six, but everyone understands that even a little time can make a big difference – for all of them – so they do their best to make it work. Hilary said she hopes Keyvonte knows that he will always have five cheerleaders in his corner, and that they hope to always be a part of his life. “We are so fortunate to call Keyvonte family!” she said.