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Wine Crush slated for May 7; Tasting event bolsters youth mentor organization

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Wine Crush

When John MacDonald and his "little" Justin were asked to talk about their experience with Big Brothers Big Sisters, he knew the speech would likely turn into a roast. 

While Justin has not yet completed his notes for Saturday night's Wine Crush, his first comment on his mentor mentioned MacDonald being "short and old." 

Justin, who was matched with MacDonald eight years ago, said while he's not a big fan of public speaking he likes to challenge himself. 

"I think it'll be a cool thing to do," he said. "He's basically my brother." 

All jesting aside, MacDonald sets a good example, he added. 

"I think he'll have fun with it," MacDonald said. 

"We really do rib each other. That's the constitution of a good friendship that you can laugh with and at each other."

The annual Wine Crush fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Helena will take place at the Helena Civic Center on Saturday, May 7. The Growlers will be providing the music for the fundraiser, which will feature wines from across the globe along with accompanying food from local restaurants. Tickets are $75 in advance, $85 at the door or a group of eight tickets for $550. Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling 442-7479 or by visiting Island Liquor or Topper’s Cellar. 

MacDonald, a media consultant who is on his fifth "little," usually attends the event, but this will be the first time he'll speak about his time with the program. He first became a mentor when he was 18. 

"It's had a huge impact on my life, too," MacDonald said.

The duo spends time together hiking, playing racquetball, making dinner and shooting hoops, among other activities. 

"It's been a lot of fun to watch him change. He's become a really good young man," MacDonald said. "It's been very fulfilling for both of us."

The program currently has a waiting list of 52 children in need of mentors. Of those, 35 are boys, said Marci Williams, development coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Helena.  

"We really need big brothers. Although, we need 'bigs' no matter what," Williams said.

Saturday's gala, which will include live and silent auctions, will help pay for those matches, which run about $1,200 per year per duo. The funds go toward background checks, case managers and other upkeep of the program.

"There's really a huge need," Williams added.   

Anyone interested in mentoring is urged to contact the program's office at 442-7479. 

It's often a lifelong bond. MacDonald said he was recently visiting with his first match, Zac. He was the best man at his wedding and Zac's daughters call him "Uncle John." Zac's two children are now grown and he's thinking of mentoring. 

"That's exactly what I want to hear," MacDonald said. 


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