When Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania celebrated its 100th anniversary last October, it named Tom McElvoque "Big Brother of the Century." The business executive and Dad, shown here with four of his Little Brothers and their families, has mentored many kids since he graduated from college.
While accepting the honor, Tom recalled his first Little Brother, a eight-year-old boy named Joe. He and Joe were invited to a screen test for some BBBS advertising. Joe was ecstatic. "We're going to be on billboards! All my friends will see me! This will be the greatest thing ever!" Joe predicted. On the day of the screen test, Joe was bundle of energy. Tom tried to lower his expectations, but "Joe kept telling me he knew we would get it, and he couldn't wait." Finally they heard back from the ad agency. They felt Joe was great in front of the camera, but they didn't feel Tom was photogenic, so they'd like to photograph Joe with another Big Brother. Tom agreed and called Joe to let him know he'd be in the ads. Joe went crazy screaming into the phone, and when he finally calmed down, Tom explained how Joe with be with another more photogenic Big Brother. Then there was silence. More silence. Finally Joe said, "Tom, I'm not going to be in the ad. We're a team, and if you aren't right for the ad, I'm not either." That happened a long time ago. Since then, Joe was in Tom's wedding. Tom and Joe are still best friends, and their families have gotten together for Christmas ever since they met. That's 43 years, so far.