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Neckers Gift of Giving salutes Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley

“It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” said Aaron Gunnare, 33, on being a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Va...

DAVENPORT, Iowa - Help is on the way for hundreds of families around the Quad Cities.

Some 200 kids remain on a waiting list to join Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley, but the Diamond Dash aims to change that on Saturday, Aug.  20.

Ethan Sherrill, 13, and Aaron Gunnare, 33, become better friends each time they get together.

"It's actually really fun," said Sherrill, an incoming seventh grader at Smart Intermediate School in Davenport.

"It's the coolest thing I've ever done," said Gunnare, who sells insurance for Farm Bureau in Eldridge.

It's what Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley is all about.

"We see kids who never felt like they were good at anything," said Jaime Keller, who directs the Big Brothers Big Sisters Elementary Program.  "You see their self-confidence just really soar."

Saturday's Diamond Dash starts and ends at Stoney Creek Inn while turning downtown Moline into one big scavenger hunt.

Two-person teams will compete for more than $40,000 in prizes.

"The funds that they're going to be bringing in will really help toward growing our program," Keller said.

To register, check out http://www.neckersjewelers.com.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley currently works with some 500 kids and their adult mentors around the Quad Cities.

Ethan and Aaron get together each week for a fun outing.

Tossing the football and talking can lead to positive results.

"Aaron's really helped me change my behavior, helped me with my grades," Ethan said.

"We just have a lot of fun together," Aaron added.  "We have some serious talks, too."

All of it is making a difference for participants.

"The stuff that I would have been able to do wouldn't be as much fun if I didn't have him in my life," Ethan said.

It's rewarding for Aaron, too.

"I've gotten literally a little brother out of it," he concluded.  "We're more like family than we are friends."

For Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley, quite a connection.

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