By Mike Bush
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - After all these years, Jonathan Deery still looks forward to the days he spends with Allen Savat.
"I couldn't imagine him not being around," said Jonathan.
Today, they're giving Jonathan's new, used car the once over as they continue to fill up a fuel tank of memories. Though they're not related Allen is Jonathan's big brother.
Before he was born, Jonathan's father was killed in a car accident. In her grief, his mother, Sherry, realized she now had to be the breadwinner and she worried for Jonathan and his six siblings.
"Not only had they lost their father," she explained. "I was being taken away into the work force."
So, she turned to Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the organization that provides mentoring relationships for children facing adversity.
Six-year-old Jonathan was matched up with 27-year-old Allen, a mechanical engineer who volunteered because a friend did.
"You kind of see someone do a good deed and it kind of inspires you," said Allen.
"I think I was kind of nervous, I didn't know what to expect," recalled Jonathan.
But even from the very first meeting, they hit it off.
"It was like chemistry," said Sherry.
In the beginning, they'd meet once a week. Then it got more frequent.
"They'd go to ballgames, movies, video games," remembered Sherry.
Allen even attended Jonathan's seventh birthday party.
"He was there. Yeah, I was excited that he was there," said Jonathan.
He taught him how to ride a bicycle and later how to drive a car.
"At times it was scary," laughed Savat.
"Then when he got his license," Sherry explained, "Jonathan had some money that he had saved and Allen matched the money he had saved helped him find a nice, dependable car."
Jonathan will graduate high school next year, and according to his mom, it's Allen's influence that's helped the determined the next step.
"So yeah, I'm definitely, probably going to do college, said Jonathan. "I'm really like, motivated."
The Deerys say there is no way they could pay Allen Savat back for his more than 11 years of kindness, but recently Sherry took the microphone at the Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Big event to tell their story and to thank this one time stranger in front of hundreds of people.
"That stranger became an angel, and that's the way I feel," she said.
Allen is now married with children of his own, but he and Jonathan still get together all the time.
"You have so much history together," he said, "and so many moments through your life together that you can't stop that."
Allen couldn't give Jonathan his father back, but he did the next best thing; he gave him his heart.
"I'm happy that I've been able to help," said Allen.