Jason Sudan built a relationship with Riley McNally, his 10-year-old mentee, through morning car rides to school and trips to Sonic, plus homework and hangout time at our neighborhood’s Forerunner Mentoring program.
The two had an undeniable bond from the beginning, says Riley’s mom, Sarah McNally, who found out about the program from church friends.
“She was so excited that someone cared enough about her son to invest in him,” says Sudan, 36, who co-owns building company Marable Homes.
Sudan and Riley have touched on everything from YouTube to Minecraft, and they’ve dealt with bullying and worked on a drywall project together during the past two years.
Forerunner Mentoring, located at Walnut Hill Lane and I-635, is a Christian nonprofit that matches Lake Highlands boys who need a positive male role model with men who invest their time and attention in the kids. The nonprofit encourages long-term father/son-like relationships. Mentors are chosen through interviews and after meeting application requirements. The matches speak to each other once a week and spend time together at least every other week, plus occasional outings and quarterly family dinners.
Founded by Zach Garza a decade ago to serve elementary-age children, the nonprofit is expanding its work to higher grade levels as the current mentees age.
Forerunner recently launched a high-school program that includes kids who started out as mentees in elementary, as well as students who are new to the program.
“We want to see them flourish into great young men here in society,” says Darius Person, the group’s junior and senior high school coordinator.
Forerunner is working to further its reach in Lake Highlands.
“In the last 10 years, we’ve really only been serving the south side of Lake Highlands,” says Beth Winter, Forerunner’s director of programs. “Our vision is to be accessible for all the schools that feed into Lake Highlands High School.”
The nonprofit plans to offer mentorships in all schools that feed into Forest Meadow Junior High within the next couple of years. And it plans to add a second Forerunner location in Lake Highlands, Winter says.
Sudan says he and Riley “are definitely having fourth-grade conversations now,” but he plans to shepherd the boy through his middle school and high school years.
“It’s family, that’s the only way I can describe it,” says Riley’s mom. “I’m blessed to be in the middle of it, and I’m so grateful that Riley and Jason are together.”
Forerunner Mentoring, 972.656.8252, www.forerunnermentoring.com