27 Kids Who Matter: Scholarship fund honors late big brother - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

27 Kids Who Matter: Scholarship fund honors late big brother

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A little brother matched more than 40 years ago through Big Brothers Big Sisters is giving back to the program. It's his way of honoring a lifelong mentor.

"I remember the first time we went out. He took me to dinner and a movie and we ran out of gas," former little brother Mark Rounds chuckles. "I thought this is going to be a real interesting match."

Mark was 12-years-old at the time and was living in a divorced family setting. His grandfather had recently passed away. The death left him without a sturdy male role model he could count on. His mother decided to enroll him in Big Brothers Big Sisters and Dan Gribbon became his match.

"Throughout our lifetime Dan was always there for me. He was a mentor, he was a coach. He was somebody that I could always call if I had an issue or a problem," Rounds says.

Dan even helped Mark find his passion in life, construction and remodeling. That passion eventually led to his current position as Vice President of Operations at The Boldt Company.

"Dan and I were always remodeling his home. He always seemed to have some project going on and so my love of construction I sometimes credit to him," Rounds explains.

Mark's current project is the renovation of the UW-Madison Memorial Union theater. The project will create more space, add additional seating and would make the venue more comfortable for viewers.

It's a project Mark never could have imagined working on if it wasn't for Dan's support. The relationship continued long after Mark finished high school. The pair remained close friends until Dan died in 2008.

"You may not understand today how important your big brother or big sister has been in your life, but as you grow and reflect you'll understand," Rounds says.

Five years after Dan's death, Mark decided it was time to honor his big brother. Not only did Dan volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters, but he went on to become a case manager and eventually became the executive director. For nearly 30 years Dan helped thousands of kids in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

"When Dan passed away I wanted to do something to honor him, to remember him," Rounds says.

Together with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Mark has set up a Dan Gribbon scholarship fund to give little brothers and sisters some money for college and to keep the memory of a lifelong mentor alive.

"It's so incredibly important to have that person there that is going to be with you,"Rounds says.

 Anyone interested in contributing to the Dan Gribbon scholarship fund should contact Big Brothers Big Sisters. Scholarships will be given to local high school graduates who participate in the program.

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