Meet the match: Johnnie and Noah

For the eighth consecutive year, New England’s World Champion Nose Tackle Vince Wilfork and The Safety Insurance 98.5 The Sports Hub New England Patriots Radio Network have teamed up with Mass Mentoring Partnership, to ensure that more young people are connected to caring adult mentors who will listen to them, stand by them and guide them. As a part of this initiative, Wilfork and 98.5 have extended invitations to mentor/mentee matches in the MMP network to attend a home game, and MMP chooses a match for each game based on the most compelling stories submitted. On game day, chosen matches are met by Bianca Wilfork and 98.5 The Sports Hub.

This is a highlight of the match that attended a home game this season.

[caption id="attachment_505" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Johnnie and Noah, with Bianca Wilfork, before the Pats/Giants game on Nov. 6"]Johnnie and Noah[/caption]Johnnie Williams, 11, and his mentor Noah Spaulding, have been matched for more than two years through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay. They attended the Pats vs. Giants game earlier in November, thanks to the generosity of Vince Wilfork, his wife Bianca, and The Safety Insurance 98.5 The Sports Hub New England Patriots Radio Network as Wilfork’s “Match of the Game” coordinated through Mass Mentoring Partnership.

Johnnie was matched with Noah when he was going through a difficult period, but Noah was able to earn his trust, which allowed Johnnie to confide in him. Furthermore, Johnnie had been living with his grandma, whose activity out of the house was limited, and Noah was able to get him out of the house and "do things that has given him confidence and helped him explore hobbies and find talents he didn't know he had," says Noah.

One of the biggest gains from the relationship for Johnnie has been a stable friend in Noah. "By doing simple things like answering the phone when he calls and showing up when I say I'm going to, it has helped Johnnie realize that he has someone who is there for him," says Noah.

The pair enjoy unique activities together, including making a Super Bowl-themed cake one year and rebuilding and remodeling Johnnie's bike last year, and other amusements like seeing movies, kayaking, and fixing things.

They're also very invested in the future - they like to call each other "brothers," and Noah says, "We came into each other's lives at the perfect time, and will continue to be friends for the rest of our lives."

As one of the largest adult-to-child mentoring organizations in the nation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay currently serves over 1,200 youth in one-to-one relationships, with a service area encompassing 155 cities and towns throughout the Massachusetts Bay area. For more information: www.bbbsmb.org.