Thursday, May 24, 2018
News Roundup

40 years later, Temple Terrace man reunites with Big Brother

TAMPA — Music blared over the speakers at the Pin Chasers Midtown bowling alley as hundreds of Big Brothers and Big Sisters bonded with their littles.

But in an enclosed room to the side, a quieter exchange was taking place Sunday afternoon.

More than 40 years had passed since Christopher Allen met Harry McAlister, the man he credits with helping him turn his life around.

Allen, a high school student back then, had been arrested for stealing and spent time in jail. A judge recommended he take part in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

And there, he met McAlister.

McAlister, a communications officer for the U.S. Air Force, had already mentored other boys through the program, including one who wound up as best man in McAlister's wedding.

Their time together was brief, consisting mostly of motorcycle rides and trips to the park. But the impact changed the trajectory of Allen's life.

Allen, who said his father was a mostly absent figure, couldn't imagine a life of success ahead of him. McAlister changed that, helping the youth put faith in himself and his future.

McAlister's knowledge of electronics piqued Allen's interest. Maybe, he thought, there was something in that field for him.

With McAlister's guidance and with financial help from the government and his mother, Allen enrolled in electronics courses at Tampa Technical Institute. Within two years, he landed a job that had him building computers for the Pentagon.

"His initial investment in my life was what changed my life forever," said Allen, now 59, from Temple Terrace.

After seeing an advertisement for Big Brothers Big Sisters on TV during the Super Bowl, Allen did a little investigative work and started calling all the McAlisters in the area.

A week later, he got a call back. He had found his Big Brother.

As the two sat together for the first time in decades, McAlister told stories about Allen sneaking away and trying on McAlister's contact lenses and commandeering a pair of boots McAlister brought back from Turkey.

"I hope those stories aren't embarrassing for you," joked McAlister, now 70, from Town 'N Country.

Shortly after the two sat down together Sunday, McAlister pulled out the card he received when Big Brothers assigned Allen as his little brother. He had tucked it away with the cards from the six other boys he mentored, and kept them in a keepsake box in his home.

"I can't wait to get my first card," Allen said when he saw it.

Reconnecting with McAlister was the first step. Now Allen hopes to influence the life of another young boy. He handed a donation and his completed Big Brother application form to one of the organization's leaders.

"All of these things made a difference in my life," Allen said. "If you invest a little time in these kids, you can make a big difference in their lives."

Caitlin Johnston can be reached at (813) 661-2443 or [email protected]

 
Comments
When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

TAMPA — Disbelief will eventually give way to acceptance.The Lightning isn't there yet.It isn't there yet in a lot of ways.Will it ever be?Just wondering.Really, what guarantees are there?Late Wednesday night, Washington Capitals captain A...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

TAMPA — Joe Capitano Sr. invested in the 1400 block of E Seventh Avenue in 1985, never doubting the huge potential of the property for Ybor City.But the deal to build a $52 million boutique hotel on the site didn’t start to come together until six ye...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

The Rays aren't kidding about being serious in using relievers to start games.After unveiling the strategy last weekend against the Angels, manager Kevin Cash said they planned to use it again, and he made that official on Thursday, naming Sergio Rom...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Riverview

Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Riverview

RIVERVIEW — Sprouts Farmers Market is opening a new location in Riverview, the chain announced Thursday. The new store will be located at Summerfield Crossing Shopping Center, though Sprouts did not have a specific opening date.The announcement comes...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pasco sheriff: Man stabbed driver, kicked officer

Pasco sheriff: Man stabbed driver, kicked officer

DADE CITY — A 42-year-old man was arrested Tuesday night after the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said he jumped on top of a car, stabbed the driver multiple times and then kicked an officer.Roscoe James faces charges of attempted murder, two counts ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

APOLLO BEACH — Tampa Electric Co. is taking a big step away from coal. The Tampa-based utility is spending $853 million to convert its coal-fired Unit 1 at its Big Bend Power Station to natural gas and retire coal-fired Unit 2 in 2021.Five workers di...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs offensive lineman Ali Marpet questioned the legality of the NFL's new  policy that requires players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
USF wins doubleheader to stay alive in AAC tourney

USF wins doubleheader to stay alive in AAC tourney

Its American Athletic Conference tournament hopes flat-lining, USF's baseball team has spent the past 30 or so hours reviving itself with plain ol' CPR.Clutch Pitching and Resolve.Needing back-to-back wins on a humid Clearwater day to remain alive, t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
One day after fatal accident, Tampa moves to lower speed limit on Bayshore Blvd

One day after fatal accident, Tampa moves to lower speed limit on Bayshore Blvd

TAMPA — Tampa officials said Thursday they are reducing the speed limit on Bayshore Boulevard, one day after a mother was struck and killed by a speeding car while pushing her 21-month-old daughter across the city’s signature street.Starting Friday, ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
A white supremacist killed her twin. Why did she forgive him?

A white supremacist killed her twin. Why did she forgive him?

As a fifth-grader, Aleesha Mance wrote an essay about her sister’s killer, explaining how peer pressure and drugs led the 17-year-old to make a deadly choice. In high school, she searched for his name online. She read news articles about a tee...
Updated: 3 hours ago