May 7, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

I have been in and out of jail since I was twelve,” says Peggy Radik, a junior at Millard Horizon High School.

Radik joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands—a program that gave her a strong role model—when she was 11 years old. She was matched with Big Sister, Dakotah Taylor.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a mentoring program that has been around for over 100 years. The mission of the program is to provide children in need with a supportive mentor, “a strong and enduring, professionally-supported, one-to-one relationship.”

“She is someone that I could finally look up to,” Radik says of Taylor. “I never had that before. I trust her and she has never proved me wrong. I love her with all my heart!”

Radik credits Big Brothers Big Sisters and Taylor’s friendship with her successes. Her favorite part about the program is the strong support system, and she is very grateful that Taylor stayed by her side when no one else was there.

“I was in Boys Town for 18 months,” says Radik. “I got involved in gangs and selling drugs, and that’s what got me put into Boys Town. Throughout that time she [Taylor] was there and stayed by my side and gave me hope.”

Taylor wrote to and called Radik during this difficult period. What meant the most to Radik was that Taylor answered her calls. “Most of my family,” she says, “hung up on me or didn’t answer, so it felt good to see who was really there for me.”

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Radik and Taylor get together at least once a month and their relationship remains strong. The two enjoy such activities as roller skating, ice skating, and visiting the Humane Society.

As an independent, young woman, Radik has taught herself a lot in life. She learned early on that a strong support system is imperative. “I’ve taught myself that when you’re young you can’t live life on your own and you need some type of support because it keeps you going.”

Radik, now living back with her mom and dad, is very grateful to Taylor and wants to repay the favor in the best way she knows.

“I will definitely be a Big Sister,” she says. “I would like to teach my “Little” to learn self-respect and responsibility.”

Radik continues to conquer her struggles and has set goals for her future. “I want to go to school. That is all I really know right now. I want to be an RN,” says Radik. “I love helping people and I feel like it’s something I’ll really enjoy because I can give back to people and hopefully help them.

“Life is so much more than it seems to be,” she adds. “It’s not a game. It’s something you should take seriously. And never give up no matter how hard it gets because you will only come out of the situation as a stronger and better person.”

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