Chad lost his father at a young age to a battle with leukemia. This loss, as expected, left a void in his life despite the love from his mother, older brother and grandfather. Along with that void, Chad developed a determination to push himself to be all that he could be in his life with the hopes to maybe be able to fill some part of the shoes left behind by his father. By the age of 25 he had passed the Florida State Bar and opened his own law firm.
In August of 2012, Chad decided that he was ready to give back to his community, one child at a time. He came to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward with the desire to mentor and hopefully fill the void that another boy may be feeling in their own life. In November 2012, a perfect match for Chad had been found. Desmond was being raised by his single mother in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He had been in a previous couple’s match that ended on a positive note. However, Nina wanted her son to still have a mentor in his life. You see Desmond’s father had passed away when he was younger and she knew he needed a male figure in his life. Nina was doing her best to be Mom and Dad, but as Desmond was getting older she wanted him to have a man to talk to. For BBBS staff it was a no brainer to introduce Chad and Desmond and let their mentor relationship begin.
Chad embraced his role as mentor, friend, advocate, and support with all he had. He made sure to see Desmond a few times every month, try out different activities in the community to see what he enjoys, follow up on his academics and even bring him into his law office for job shadowing. The two of them can be seen shooting hoops on the weekend at the neighborhood courts, playing tennis at a fundraising event for BBBS, practicing football techniques to improve Desmond’s performance or just hanging out enjoying a meal together.
Chad found a balance in being fun while remembering that he is a role model for Desmond. There are times when he has to reinforce Nina’s expectations for Desmond to thrive in school and listen at home because they are Chad’s expectations for Desmond too. Over the last 3 years their outings have advanced to talks about girls, teaching Desmond how to drive, and exploring his college options. Chad has been instrumental in showing Desmond the importance of academics, making sound choices and the impact that working hard can have on one’s life.
As if being a committed Big Brother to Desmond wasn’t enough, Chad decided to come onto the BBBS of Broward County Board of Directors after attending our annual Swing for Kids’ Sake Golf Tournament in 2013. Since the start of his involvement on the business side of our agency Chad has gone above and beyond board member expectations as the executive committee Legal Counsel. Chad sits on the steering committee for Swing for Kids Sake golf tournament, was the 2015 top sponsor for our annual Déjà Vu Ball, title sponsor for an annual tennis tournament held in December 2015, creator of a stewardship events to recognize supporters and donors of the agency, and continues to be a consistent donor at all agency events.
Chad is the epitome of what a Big of the Year should be. He considers the time he takes to mentor, fundraise and advocate Big Brothers Big Sisters as an honor that he could not imagine not being involved in. BBBS of Broward is lucky to have Chad Van Horn as a member of our BBBS family and are thrilled to have him represent our agency as 2017 Big Brother of the Year for the state of Florida.