Big Brother raises the bar on what being a mentor really means


Posted on October 17, 2008 at 8:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 15 at 1:14 PM

By Gary Roedemeir

Our Big Brother of the Week, was recently named Big Brother of the Year. Austin Shaffner is a big brother volunteer, and mentors to 12-year-old Ben Henning.

But Austin is also a University of Louisville student and serves in the Kentucky Air National Guard. Austin Shaffner also works hard at being a big brother.

You can find this match fishing, dirt biking, or as we found them this week, in the middle of laser blaze, ready to try anything. They could be real brothers, and a lot of people think they are related.

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"Yes, a lot of people think I'm his dad; which, we just kind of laugh at. That's a joke we have. People say, yeah, and most of the time, we just go along with it. Yeah we just kind laugh." Says Shaffner

We caught them actually sitting still for a while. But that's a rare moment for these two. The big brother likes to get Ben outside.

"Obviously I'm the one that drives, so I'm into outdoor stuff. I try to get that on him, try to get him out from playing video games and stuff."

Austin has learned in three years that if you play lazer tag with a 12-year-old, or you take a little brother on in video games, you're going to lose.

"I also beat Austin twice at lazer tag and once in air hockey," says Ben. "It's true, he did," Austin agreed.

It's been a learning experience for both of them.

Austin has taught his little brother about dirt biking and fishing. And other than being embarrassed in video games, what does Austin get out of his match?

"It makes you a better person, because, you know, you always gotta think, I've got this little kid looking up to me, you know. You gotta make the right decisions, do the right things, I mean it keeps you on track to a point."

He's the Big Brother of the Year, who feels the responsibility to be a good role model. He's a student, a member of the Air Guard, but most importantly, he's the star in Ben Henning life.

For more information on how you can become a big brother or big sister or a couples match call 1-877-588-2300.

You can also go to the "as seen on" on our front page,, and we have a link to Big Brothers Big Sisters.