Christian first became involved in the Buddy Program in 2011 when he was only 11 years old, shortly after he and his younger brother moved to the Roaring Fork Valley from Mexico. His family came to the states, where his grandparents lived, in search of a better life and education. His grandmother quickly realized the need to get the boys with the Buddy Program.
When Christian was referred to the Buddy Program his English was quite poor. Fortunately, the Buddy Program was able to find him a mentor who not only spoke Spanish, but also shared his Mexican heritage. Samuel Bernal, a Mexican journalist who is the Station manager for Tricolor Radio in the Roaring Fork Valley, was looking for volunteer opportunities. The Buddy Program was the perfect fit.
Samuel and Christian were matched in 2012 and connected right away. They started seeing each other consistently and participating in many of the Buddy Program’s free activities together. They have built a very solid relationship and are not only Buddies but confidantes and brothers to each other.
Both Christian and Samuel have a passion for music; it is the foundation of their relationship. Over the course of their time together, Christian has developed into a very talented guitar player. He is called “a genius kid” by many of his peers at school. This is particularly remarkable given his hearing impairment. They have attended concerts including one in Denver of Christian’s favorite player, and have created music videos of Christian’s work.
Christian has also been actively involved in the Nathan and Karen Sandler LEAD (Leadership through Exploration, Action, and Discovery) Program, having participated thoughtfully and whole-heartedly in three Youth Camps in Moab since 2013. Over three years of camp, Christian has grown to be one of the hearts of camp. He brings his guitar and plays around the evening campfires. This opportunity to share his music has helped him open up to peers, develop self-confidence, and show a sense of humor. He is humble about his skills and enjoys sharing his talents with others.
Christian has also benefited from Buddy Program Empowerment Scholarships, using these funds to participate at the Aspen Recreation Center, Aspen Valley Ski Snowboard Club and The Rock and Roll Academy, among others.
Christian loves the Buddy Program and he looks forward to being involved for many years to come!