A Little Competition Builds A Solid Bond

Terran Bursch and Cullen high-five each other

Terran Bursch and Cullen were both nervous the first time they met. Terran remembers not knowing what to expect: what would his Little Brother be like, and would they have anything in common?

Now, more than two years later, Terran and Cullen have a brother-like relationship, and they both eagerly await their weekly meetings together during the school year. There’s no shortage of things to talk about or games to play, and the only concern is when they’ll get to hang out again.

Terran was a sophomore at Foley High School when he was matched with Cullen, who was in first grade at the time. Their first few meetings together were quiet – Terran did most of the talking. He talked about hunting, being on the lake, or just spending time outside. Cullen shared a few stories about similar outdoor memories he had with his family, but then he got quiet again.

After a few quiet meetings, Terran and Cullen were playing a computer game, and Terran realized that Cullen was very competitive – and very talkative when he was feeling competitive. From there, it was game on for the duo. Each week, Terran suggested they play Jenga – Cullen’s favorite – or various card games to bring out Cullen’s competitive side, and the relationship blossomed.

Now, Terran is the 2024 Central Minnesota High School Big Brother of the Year.

This connection is exactly what Janelle, Cullen’s mom, was looking for when she signed her son up with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Her oldest son had been a part of the program, so they knew how valuable it could be, and Janelle wanted that same experience for Cullen. Cullen’s dad, Joe, is in the military, and Janelle could see that Cullen needed someone with high energy and similar interests for Cullen to spend time with.

Terran has filled that role of mentor, friend, and support system better than Janelle could ever have imagined. Through playing games together, learning new sports, or just talking about life, Terran has become a special place for Cullen.

“This relationship has given Cullen something of his own. It’s not coordinated by Mom, it’s not scripted family fun – it’s grown to be genuine for Cullen, and was from the start with Terran stepping into this act of service for others,” Janelle said.

After nearly two years of meeting in school, Terran worked with Cullen’s family in Summer 2023 to set up a plan for the two of them to meet outside of school at BBBS-sponsored activities. First they went canoeing together, and later in the summer they spent an evening at Summerland. Cullen enjoyed sitting back and drinking a Mountain Dew while Terran did all the paddling at canoeing, and at Summerland Cullen seemed to especially enjoy splashing Terran when they collided in the bumper boats.

Now, school is back in session and the pair is back to playing games, learning new sports, and talking about life. Janelle is especially grateful for Cullen’s relationship with Terran this year as his dad is deploying overseas in early 2024 for nearly a year. Terran understands the added importance of his weekly meetups with Cullen during this time, and hopes to continue to grow his relationship with Cullen even after graduation in May.

“It is a privilege to be helping someone think of something other than their dad being away for that long,” Terran said. “I hope that I can continue to do good work with (Cullen) and set the bar high for him … and hopefully still be in contact after graduation.”

Related Stories

Skip to content Tag 1: LTB - STC - Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central MN Paste the code below: ************************