Earlier this year, Kristen Johnson presented Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County with a check for $10,000 to support FSA’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program in honor of Airman Daniel Johnson, a Big Brother who died serving his country in Afghanistan.

Big Brothers Big Sisters, a program of Family Service Agency, creates pathways to success through mentorship. Each year, more than 240 mentors are placed with at-risk youths throughout Santa Barbara County. The Big Brothers and Big Sisters — “Bigs” — are powerful role models who provide the extra support needed to help their “Littles” avoid risky behavior, improve their academic achievement and develop greater self-esteem.

Johnson died Oct. 5, 2010. He was only 23, but has left a long and lasting legacy behind — one of courage, passion and care for those around him. Not only did Johnson serve his country, he was also dedicated to serving his community. In April 2008, Johnson became a Big Brother and for more than 2½ years made a huge impact on Tyler’s (his Little) life.

“The Big Brothers Big Sisters program was great for my son,” Tyler’s mom said. “I saw many positive changes since Dan became Tyler’s Big Brother. He has better self-confidence, improved academic performance and a more positive outlook for his future. Dan and Tyler were like real brothers.”

“We feel extremely lucky to have had Daniel as a Big Brother,” said Bill Batty, executive director of Family Service Agency.

Johnson’s family ensured that his legacy of giving back to the community would continue by creating the Senior Airman Daniel Johnson Memorial Fund. Proceeds from this fund will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Barbara County in memory of the airman.

“FSA and Big Brothers Big Sisters is proud to partner with Daniel Johnson’s family and the Senior Airman Daniel Johnson Memorial Fund,” Batty said. “By donating to this program they will ensure youth like Tyler get the support they need to lead successful and productive lives.”

— Kelly Adams is the director of development and communications for the Family Service Agency.