Honoring Walk With Sally mentors—experienced and newbie
Gearing up for White Light White Night on 7/28.
At this year’s White Light White Night on July 28, Walk With Sally will celebrate the mentors who support children of families affected by cancer. One of this year’s honorees is mentor Brian LaTorre. Attending the event for the first time will be Walk With Sally’s 100th mentor, Darnell Beller. We caught up with both of them a few weeks out from the event.
How did you both find Walk With Sally?
Brian LaTorre: My father passed away after his battle with cancer when I was only 13 years old, so the mission of the organization instantly resonated with me. I went to a social fundraising event first to learn more about the organization, then to a mentor training class shortly thereafter where I met some of the amazing staff members. The rest, as they say, is history.
Darnell Beller: I was looking for some sort of organization to help me deal with losing both of my parents to cancer in the last two years. I’m fairly new to Los Angeles, and this program just felt like a perfect fit.
Darnell, what crossed your mind when you heard you were the 100th Walk With Sally mentor?
DB: I was stoked! I thought it was pretty cool being #100. What a milestone.
Brian, what’s your relationship like with your mentee?
BL: I think that I can understand him and what he is going through in a way that most other people, like his friends, are not able to simply because they have not been in that situation before. We share a similar experience, which has bonded us in a very unique yet powerful way.
Any advice you can give new mentors like Darnell?
BL: Be patient. It can take time to build rapport with your mentee, and it can even feel a bit awkward for a while. That is a phase that I think a lot of new friendships go through simply because of the nature of how the friendship has come to be in the first place. Don’t get discouraged! The more time that you spend with your mentee, the more the friendship will develop and the more comfortable you both will feel. Continue to show up with the best intentions, and the rest will take care of itself.
It started in the middle of Jeff Bridges’ acceptance speech for Crazy Heart. Then I heard there was a remake of Big Valley in the works. A friend persuaded me to join efforts to save American wild mustangs from slaughter. I seemed to be nursing an inside longing to return from the blindingly instant world of tech relationships and business dealings to a simpler slower place.