Big Sister Sarah Danielson Wins Jefferson Award - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Big Sister Sarah Danielson Wins Jefferson Award

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La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

Two young women from different worlds.  The chances of them finding something in common was slim.  However, the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the 7 Rivers Region knew better and had faith in the process.

Sarah Danielson of La Crescent, Minnesota decided to volunteer for the program because she had a little extra time on her hands. Her little sister, Ranelle was skeptical after a few failed attempts.

"The reason she decided to give it one more shot was apparently one of the comments in my interview. I mentioned that we wanted to have kids
but we didn't have kids currently, so I wanted to make sure I was matched with a little who liked kids because she's probably going to be incorporated into that and I didn't think much of saying that at the time but that's what made her mom feel comfortable with the match," said Danielson.

Sarah and Ranelle gave it a shot but it just didn't seem like it was going anywhere.

"The first few months were very structured and very formal.  We would plan an event. I would pick her up at a specific time, bring her home
at a specific time. I didn't really feel like there was an real purpose," said Danielson.  

The changing point was when Ranelle suggested a hike on a whim.  Sarah agreed.  Afterwards the two laughed together for the very first time.

"I think that she appreciated that she could drag me on this really ill planned adventure and we survived it together and that's when we started the laughter and that's when things started to get more fun," said Danielson.

Ranelle is in her late twenties now-a far cry from the 12-year-old girl reluctant to meet her new big sister.

"She's a driven, responsible, caring PhD student at the University of Alabama for chemistry. She is newly married, has a terrific husband
still sends presents for my kids and still comes here to visit on her vacation.  She is everything you could ask for," said Danielson.

"She taught me how to be more open and tolerant to people, to get to know people better rather than work off of a first impression.
It probably gave me a better appreciation for how blessed I've been and it also taught me it doesn't matter how humble your
background is, you can do whatever you want to do," said Danielson.

To volunteer go to

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