Perhaps no other single event at Lake Norman impacts children as much as Big Day at the Lake. “Big Day,” which takes place on a Saturday in July, was created by Business Today publisher Dave Yochum. On July 21st, the Lake Norman business community, along with quite a few retired and active community citizens, opened their checkbooks and shared their time and resources with 144 at-risk children from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte.
Close to 80 boat hosts took out the Big Brother or Sister (Bigs) along with their “littles” who enjoyed a morning on the lake – many for the first time. Then it was off for lunch at the Energy Explorium where 600 hot dogs, 75 pizzas, and 20 pounds of Cole slaw was dished out by the volunteers from many of the lake’s active civic clubs.
Big Day organizers set a goal of $50,000 in cash, and while businesses are just beginning to see the clouds of economic recession fade, the group exceeded their goal with slightly more than $60,000 collected. It is estimated that 83% of every dollar collected goes right back into the charity itself. Those contributions will help assist the organization long after the summer has passed.
I have been fortunate the last few years to be the guest of the Brian Sisson family as Brian, Tricia, Kaitlyn, and Sam typically hosts a “Big and Little.” This year the Sisson’s took Willie and his Big Brother Aaron Grissom out on the lake. Willie is a fifth grader and you could see the excitement in his eyes as he stepped aboard the Sisson boat.
Aaron and Willie have been teamed up for a couple of years. They have battled the rapids at the WhitewaterCenter in Charlotte and taken in Carowinds but I don’t think any of that compared to piloting the boat back to the Peninsula Yacht Club or making the flip off the back of the boat into the cool water with all the other children watching.
Hearing the splashing and laughter last Saturday at Big Day at the Lake brings back so many fond memories I have as a child with the wonderful trips our family took to the beach and our days out on Lake Wylie (SC) that we just affectionately referred to as “the river.”
Kids like Willie will never forget their Big Day at the Lake. A day when strangers became friends. When the families of Lake Norman opened their hearts to impressionable young people letting them know we care.
It was a day when Charlotte’s kids were our kids. A day filled with a compassion as wide as the shoreline and deeper than Lake Norman’s deepest point. It was a day like no other. It was our Big Day at the Lake.