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'It Is My Forever Family': Big Brothers Big Sisters Of Miami Inspires Lifelong Bonds At Annual Fundraising Event

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Slowly but surely, charitable organizations are returning to in-person events after more than a year of virtual fundraisers and galas.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami held its ever-popular Jazz at Joe's event at the world-famous Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach Tuesday.

And while the stone crabs there are always a hit, a special bond between a big and little stole the show.

"You're part of the family. You're part of the sisterhood," said Gale Nelson, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami, as he introduced Debbie Tyler and Destyni Govan.

Big brother and big sisters of Miami
Debbie Tyler and Destyni Govan of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Miami (CBS4)

Not by blood, but by bond, Debbie and Destyni are sisters matched through BBBS of Miami.

"She was my first little. Fifteen years ago I was matched for the first time and she was 8," said Debbie, who also happens to be the Co-Chair of BBBS of Miami.

Destyni had just lost her father to suicide. But Debbie was there to help her along the way.

"She has always been pushing me to be my best self. Always wanted the best for me. That's all I can thank her for," Destyni said.

The two women shared their story at the annual fundraising event Tuesday where CBS4 Anchor Lauren Pastrana served as Mistress of Ceremonies.

Big brother and big sisiters event_2
CBS4's Lauren Pastrama performs Mistress of Ceremony duties at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami fundraising event on Nov. 16, 2021. (CBS4)

It marked the return of the event that was held virtually last year because of the pandemic.

"It is so heartwarming and emotional. We're back," said Nelson. "Everyone is outside enjoying themselves. No virtual backgrounds and folks having a good time for a great cause."

The hope is seeing the special bond these sisters share will inspire others to join in.

"That sisterhood has just grown and blossomed. Deb is now Co-Chair of our Board of Directors and Destyni is now a fulltime staffer making matches helping other children," said Nelson.

"Now all I want is more Debbie's and Destyni's around," Destyni said. "I want people to really take their time and commit."

"It is my forever family and the organization will be with me for life," Debbie added.

The event raised more than $200,000. But there are plenty more opportunities to contribute, including during this week's Give Miami Day.

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