< Back to Youth Stories

Youth Stories

September 27, 2023

A Triumph of Resilience: Youth from Mentor Program Makes Freshman High School Wrestling Team

The wrestling coach recruited him due to his passion for training hard.

In the realm of youth mentorship, where lives are transformed and futures are shaped, there are stories that stand out as shining beacons of hope and perseverance. One such tale of triumph emanates from Friends of the Children–Tampa Bay, a remarkable organization that redefines mentoring by offering unwavering support to children facing significant obstacles. Today, we celebrate a remarkable achievement within their program: a young mentee has not only overcome adversity but has also secured a spot on the freshman high school wrestling team.

The journey of this inspiring youth is a testament to the power of mentorship and the unwavering commitment of Friends of the Children. Their mission, as outlined in their core values, is to impact generational change by empowering young individuals, regardless of the challenges they may face. This particular story highlights the value of long-term relationships built on love, trust, and resilience.

From an early age, this young individual was faced with adversity that could have easily derailed their path to success. Yet, thanks to the support of their dedicated mentor, known as a "Friend," they not only persevered but thrived. The mentorship program at Friends of the Children provided stability and consistency throughout the youth's formative years, offering guidance and encouragement when it was needed most.

When Donovan was introduced to Friends of the Children at age 5, he was the smallest child in his Kindergarten class. At age 15, he still remains one of the smaller teens in his grade; however, his heart and his tenacity are giant-sized. Due to his smaller stature and love for athletics, he gravitated towards weight training. He wanted to be like “Mr. Ken” and as he calls it: “Get swole”. A spark was ignited during our visits to Gold’s Gym in Tampa and he decided to join Pasco High School’s weight training team. While there, the wrestling coach recruited him due to his passion for training hard. During his first year, he never missed a practice and was able to make it to Regionals at the 106 weight class. The adversity he faced in wrestling is certainly a true metaphor for his life. Despite whatever obstacles this young man encounters, he will have the tools necessary to overcome. - Ken B., Friends of the Children, Tampa Bay, Mentor


The key to their success lies in the unique approach of Friends of the Children, which provides professional mentors who commit to supporting youth for a minimum of 12 years, from early childhood through high school graduation. This extended relationship allowed for continuous personal and educational development, even in the face of daunting challenges.

One of the core values of this organization is "Pursue Goals Relentlessly," and this young wrestler certainly embodies that spirit. Achieving a place on the freshman high school wrestling team is no small feat, and it represents years of dedication, hard work, and perseverance. The youth's commitment to their goals, coupled with the unwavering support of their Friend, paved the way for this incredible achievement.

It's worth noting that Friends of the Children doesn't merely focus on personal accomplishments; they also advocate for and amplify the voices of the youth and their families. They challenge systemic failures and work tirelessly to change the way institutions and systems treat and view the young individuals and families they serve. This holistic approach fosters an environment where dreams can flourish, and barriers can be overcome.

In a world where obstacles often seem insurmountable, the success of this youth serves as a reminder that with the right support and mentorship, even the most challenging circumstances can be conquered. It's a testament to the transformative power of mentorship and the profound impact that organizations like Friends of the Children can have on the lives of young individuals.

As we celebrate this young wrestler's achievement, let it be a source of inspiration for us all. It reminds us that, no matter the odds, with dedication, resilience, and the support of caring mentors, our youth can achieve greatness. Friends of the Children–Tampa Bay continues to be a beacon of hope for the communities it serves, illuminating a path toward a brighter future for all.


Friends mentor tampa bay