FORT MILL — They combated bullies; selflessly turned over cash and cell phones; got help for an ill peer; broke up a fight; spearheaded giving by donating; befriended students different from themselves; and overcame personal loss and injury.
And for those brave choices, 10 teens were awarded by the Do the Right Thing program last Thursday as their friends, families, teachers and the Fort Mill Police and Fire department chiefs applauded.
The brainchild of Ray Dixon, a lieutenant with the Fort Mill police department, DTRT started in 2010 to celebrate acts of kindness performed by local teens.
“I started it because I thought something needed to be done to recognize the kids for what they do,” Dixon said.
Ray Slekes was the big winner March 25 at Town Hall.
Slekes, a senior at Nation Ford High School, was at home with his parents one night. A young woman came to the door about a domestic disturbance and her male partner, clearly intoxicated, came looking for her. Slekes sized up the situation and offered to walk the man home. On the walk, the man mentioned a gun at his house. Slekes sneaked in and took the gun back to his parents’ house. His dad secured it while the sheriff’s office was called.
After the incident, Slekes said he didn’t want to be nominated for the DTRT award and said he wouldn’t come for an award if he was, because “it was no big deal.”
He said he has family members in the military who save lives every day and doesn’t see how the incident he was honored for compares.
His reaction to the prizes?
“I was excited,” he said. “But being noticed was not what I’d planned on, I was just doing it to protect others.”
Other award winners were FMHS senior Dylan Walker; Paityn Tanda, sixth grade at Springfield Middle School; Jessica McGill, eighth grade at FM Middle school; Riley McGinty, 11th grade at FMHS; Paul Bartolotta, 11th grade at FMHS; Collin Frame, sixth grade at FMMS; Travion Mitchel, eighth grade FMMS; Zach Mobley, eighth grade at Banks Trail Middle School; and DiJuan Ussery, senior at NFHS.
Among other gifts, Slekes received a Kindle Fire; $350 in gift certificates from area merchants; two tickets to see the Charlotte Knights; a one-year membership to the Greenway and a free oil change and car inspection.
The other nine winners were given $80 in gift certificates, a membership to the Complex on the Greenway (formerly known as the Leroy Springs Recreation Center) and gift certificates for area restaurants. All winners were also given a DTRT certificate, T-shirt and bumper sticker and a free oil change.
Lt. Dixon said initially there were three sponsors. This year there are 20: Anne Springs Close Greenway, South Carolina Bank and Trust, Chick-Fil-A, Digby’s Pizza, Shade Tree Auto, The Peach Stand, Leroy Springs Recreation Complex, USA Tire, The American Legion, Family Trust Credit Union, The FM Towne Tavern, the Charlotte Knights, Young’s Body Shop, Carolina Upholstery, Freeman’s Body Shop, FM Chamber of Commerce board members, Edward Jones Investments, the FM Lions, Catawba River Dentistry, and AIM-RIGHT Guns and Ammo.
That’s a far cry from the days when he had to troll for sponsors to help reward the good deeds.
“They call me to be involved now,” Dixon said.