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Operation: All-Star

Published 7/16/2009

What happens when a small-town Montana boy grows up and enlists in the U.S. Air Force? He becomes a Big Brother, of course! Stationed at Scott Air Force Base, First Lieutenant Cody Hess, 30, is the Chief Information Officer for the 375th Medical Group. Hess's day job has him checking up on the base's medical information systems to make sure the network is operational. In his free time, though, he hangs out with his eight-year-old Little Brother. "He's awesome," Hess said. "Jeremiah is highly intelligent and mature for his age."

Since being matched last October, the pair has picked pumpkins, gone to movies, visited the zoo, and watched a Blues game at the Savvis Center. Those trips were fun, but Jeremiah's fondest pastime costs nothing at all. "Going to the library is one of his favorite activities. He's a well-rounded kid who's into books," Hess said. The two love to browse the stacks and read together. Sometimes Jeremiah picks out a movie to take home, usually a National Geographic documentary. "I think I'm learning more from those movies than he is!"

In addition to spending time with Jeremiah each week, Hess volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters Operation: All-Star. Volunteers from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Illinois joined the Eastern Missouri agency at Busch Stadium to lay seat cushions for the MLB All-Star Game on July 14. The project challenged volunteers to cover all 46,000 seats before the Tuesday night game. He even invited his father, Ken Hess, to come along. "He's in town for my promotion ceremony," he said. "I'm being promoted to Captain."

Hess knows the importance of positive role models. That's part of why he's a Big Brother. "My father was a great role model and taught me the importance of a good work ethic along with the value of the dollar," he said. "My mother taught me how to care and be compassionate toward others."

But it's not just about work. "Being a Big Brother reminds you not to take things so seriously," he said. "You're a kid again."

Big Brothers Big Sisters is seeking more volunteers like Cody to be matched with youth who want and need a mentor. We recently received a grant from T. Boone Pickens to focus on recruiting new military volunteers and matching youth who have a deployed parent. For information on voluntering or to enroll a child between the ages of 7 - 14, email us at bbbsbell@peaknet or call us at 398-3162.