Every year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC helps three thousand kids with its mentoring and other services, and in an effort to help continue the program, thousands laced up their running and walking shoes and headed to Prospect Park on Saturday. NY1's Rocco Vertuccio filed the following report.
Twelve-year-old Justin Pierre says his "big brother" Paul is always there for him.
"I needed someone like Paul, because I never had a dad who can have the same fun with me," Pierre said.
The two aren't biologically related, but they became brothers through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC program.
Paul Pabon says he wanted to give back to the community, so he and Justin play sports, go to the movies and do homework together - whatever Justin needs.
In the two and half years they've been together, Justin has changed a lot.
"Now he's more confident, higher self-esteem, his grades have improved," Pabon said.
Paul and Justin were among 3,500 people who took part in the "RBC Race for the Kids" Saturday in Prospect Park.
The goal of the 5K run and walk was to raise a million dollars for Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
The money will help pay for the mentoring programs and other services the organization has been providing for more than 100 years.
The challenges kids face today are much more complex.
Volunteers see it all, from teen mothers to kids with incarcerated parents.
One thing that has not changed, however, is the impact a one-on-one relationship can make on a child.
"What we've found is that with the support of just one individual, one supportive relationship, you can make an enormous difference in their lives," said President of the Board of Trustees for Big Brothers Big Sisters Jonathan Bram.
Some of the kids say they just need some male or female bonding.
"Because I've always had a brother and everyone in my school just like, 'Yeah, I have a sister, I have a sister.' Now, I finally do have one," one child said.
The businesses that provide some of the big brothers and big sisters also see a difference in their workplaces.
"They feel happier, they feel more engaged, and it really adds to the value of working at RBC or any company," said President and CEO of RBC Mark Standish.
But the biggest impact is among the siblings.
"I can talk to Paul just like a brother would talk to a younger brother," Pierre said.
They now share a bond, just as strong as blood.