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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published August 08 2010

Big Brother best man: Program forges lasting friendship

A relationship that began 13 years ago through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program has become a lasting friendship for two Fargo men.

Troy Ivesdahl, 38, was the best man Saturday for Timothy Stulken, 21, as he got married in Fargo.

The two were paired together when Stulken was 8, and they have maintained a strong bond ever since.

“He’s been one of my biggest mentors in my life and one of my best friends,” Stulken said right after his wedding.

Heather Stulken signed up all four of her children for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program because she is divorced and doesn’t have much extended family.

“I knew the importance of having a strong male role model in the lives of my kids,” she said.

Two of her children developed long-term relationships with their mentors.

The program officially ends when the child turns 18, but Ivesdahl and Timothy Stulken have continued their friendship.

“It’s been pretty special to watch him grow into an adult,” said Ivesdahl, a financial adviser.

When Ivesdahl signed up for the program, he and his wife, Heidi, didn’t have any children. Now they have three.

“He’s gotten to see our family grow,” Ivesdahl said.

Stulken married Jessica Trautmann at Salem Evangelical Free Church. He will be a senior at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program is through the Village Family Service Center in Fargo. It serves about 120 children in the metro area and is in need of volunteers, particularly males.

Earlier this summer, there were 14 girls and 48 boys waiting to be matched in the program.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590