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Big Sister, Little Sister stay close through life changes


TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — Some friendships begin in unusual ways and some take up multiple chapters of our lives, such as the one between April Cardenas and Danielle Wilson.

The two met through Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America 15 years ago.

While attending Mooreville High School, Cardenas became a Big Sister to earn scholarship funds for college.

But after Cardenas completed the program upon graduation, she found out Big Brothers, Big Sisters had another program for adults to mentor children, and decided to continue being a Big.

In the summer of 2003, Cardenas was attending Itawamba Community College when she was matched with Danielle Wilson, who was entering seventh grade.

“I would come get Danielle on the weekends and we would go to the mall or out to eat dinner; we would basically just hang out, maybe go to a movie,” Cardenas said.

The two are not far apart in age, Cardenas, now 33, is five years older than Wilson, but the two have stayed friends after their Big Brothers, Big Sisters relationship officially ended upon Wilson’s high school graduation in 2015.

Both women come from single-parent homes raised by their mothers, until Wilson’s mother died. Wilson and her family were in a car wreck when she was 8 years old and she now has a hearing impediment.

“I didn’t really have a relationship with my dad and Danielle has tried to have more of a relationship with her dad, so we would talk about struggles with that and give each other advice and be honest with each other, we would talk about boys sometimes,” Cardenas joked.

Cardenas attended Mississippi State University and moved to Tupelo to teach English at Tupelo High School for two years, but she has been a student services coordinator at THS for the last four years.

When Cardenas got engaged, she asked Wilson to be a bridesmaid.

“We went to Birmingham to look at bridesmaids dresses but we stopped at a restaurant to get lunch, and I asked them if they wanted to be a bridesmaid at the lunch with a little box that had a cake pop and a little note,” Cardenas said.

Last year, Cardenas found out she was expecting her now 10-month-old daughter, and Wilson was there to provide support through the pregnancy.

“When I found out I was expecting last year, I had little cookies made that had ‘aunt’ written on them and I took them to Danielle’s work to tell her I was pregnant,” Cardenas said.

Wilson said while she is not ready to have kids yet herself, she sees having a family on the horizon.

“Right now, we’re just working on trying to get a wedding planned and a house redone,” Wilson said. Wilson and her fiancee had been dating one year and he proposed on their one-year anniversary.

“He surprised me, I had just gotten back from Savannah with my sister,” Wilson.

This year, the tables were turned and Wilson asked Cardenas to stand in her wedding next October.

“With my other sister, we didn’t ever really have a talkative, lovable relationship where April and I do. I can pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, I need to talk to you about something that I can’t talk to my other sister about,’ and she’s instantly right there on the phone with me. We’ve always had that relationship where I can call her and say I don’t know what to do,” Wilson said.

“In the same way Danielle says she can tell me anything, I can tell her anything too. That’s why I definitely wanted to include her in my big day too,” Cardenas added.

Recently, the two went wedding dress shopping and Cardenas offered her friend some of the support the two have come to rely on.

“I remember when I was a bride too,” Cardenas said.


Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com