SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — An Orange County man was named California’s “Big Brother of the Year” in recognition of eight years as a mentor to a local teen.
Richard Tripp met Julio Rodriguez when he was in second grade. Rodriguez, who has cerebral palsy, struggled with speaking for years.
Now a junior in high school, Rodriguez is an AP student preparing to apply to college.
Throughout their eight-year friendship, Tripp has emphasized education above all.
In addition to taking Rodriguez to baseball games and pancake breakfasts, Tripp said he tried to introduce Julio to successful people to emulate.
He has introduced the teen to business owners, doctors, and attorneys, to “try to say: these are some of the goals that you want to achieve,” Tripp said.
According to Tripp, until this year Rodriguez commuted an hour and a half each way to school on two city buses. He does not have a computer and walks to the city library to complete his assignments.
“Richard has just been like a hero sort of in our life,” said Rodriguez’s mother, Annette Muro.
A single parent, Muro said it would have been hard if her son did not have a mentor like Tripp to learn from.
The teen said he follows his Big Brother’s advice daily to “keep going, keep moving forward, keep trying no matter what.”
The Simon Foundation, based in Orange County, has awarded Rodriguez a $32,000 scholarship to attend college. He said his dream is to attend either the University of San Diego or the University of San Francisco.