Two strangers, both North Dakotans, brought together by a local mentor program are now life-long friends.
Bis-Man Mentor Squad, formerly known as Big brothers, Big sisters, has been pairing children in the community with mentors for years.
Almost 20 years ago, David Knudson was paired with his mentor, Jeff Dietrich.
“Right away I was going to say I was a bull-headed kid. I wasn’t a big fan of being in the program. My mom kind of signed me up,” said David.
“Due to the fact that David’s dad had left, I felt that David really needed a male figure in his life,” said Lucy Knudson, David’s mom.
Jeff tells us a friend encouraged him to become a mentor in the program.
“It was interesting because I’d never done it. I kind of wanted to be of some kind of service, I guess you could say. I wanted to kind of help somebody, be there for somebody who is kind of younger than me,” said Jeff.
David says Jeff made quite the impact.
“I was a very reserved child. I didn’t want to do much. I had very few friends. He kind of broke me out of that shell. Got me to do things I normally wouldn’t do, normally didn’t do,” said David.
David tells us his life could’ve turned out much differently if they had never met.
“I would probably be– repeated the process that my dad had. Probably been in and out of jail. Doing things I shouldn’t be doing. Not having a house, probably not having a beautiful wife,” said David.
“All I can say, and I say that every day is I can’t thank Jeff enough. Because I don’t know where my son would be today if it wasn’t for Jeff. I am just so thankful. So very, very thankful,” said Lucy.
David says Jeff is nothing short of family. He’s been there for him every step of the way.
“He showed up to my graduation, he walked with my mom down the aisle at my wedding. Yeah, I mean I would do it again in a heartbeat,” said David.
“I don’t want to embarrass him but when we first met, he was just this little punk kid. A fifth grader.
His head was cut short. Now I think he’s probably taller than me. I don’t know if I’d call him a son or brother or what, but I just, I was just really proud of him,” said Jeff.
David and Jeff plan to continue to stay in touch, and encourage others to join the program.
For more information on how you can get involved with Bis-Man Mentor Squad, click HERE.