NEWBURYPORT – Last month, Newburyport’s Hugh Kelleher walked alongside brothers Ryan and Collin Logue to a microphone positioned just adjacent to home plate and exclaimed, ‘Play Ball!,’ — the official beginning to Mentoring Night at Fenway Park.
The experience, while anxiety-provoking, won’t soon be forgotten.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” said 16-year-old Ryan Logue of Newburyport. “It’s not every day you can stand in front of a huge crowd like that. But It was a really amazing experience and I was surprised that with everybody that went to the game that me, Hugh and my little brother were picked to do it.”
The night was just one of several lasting memories for the trio in their five years as participants in Merrimack Valley’s Big Friends Little Friends program.
“I’m very aware of the need for mentors,” Kelleher said. “I thought that involving myself in the Big Friends Little Friends program would be a very good decision for me and I have loved it.”
Once enrolled in the program, Kelleher was paired with Ryan – who was 11-years-old at the time. A kid on the quieter side, Ryan was hoping to gain a male presence in his life; someone to look up to and be encouraged by.
“(Kelleher) has been a godsend to my children,” said Kim Logue, the boys’ mother. “He really has helped them with self-esteem issues and been an amazing role model for them.”
Six months following the matching of Kelleher with Ryan, 6-year-old Collin began to take an interest in the program that his older brother had noticeably enjoyed. While initially cautious of involving a younger sibling into the friendship, Kelleher raised the idea to Ryan who warmly welcomed it.
“You could tell Collin wanted to come along when Ryan and I did things together,” Kelleher said. “That sounded good to me. I asked Ryan how he felt about that, but they have a very special, strong relationship. They’re very close, and we all ended up hanging out together.”