Tony began his journey with Rise Up! when he was in the second grade. He had a friend, Triston, who was attending Boys to Men regularly. One day, Triston invited Tony to join him. During those first few years of Tony’s participation, Boys to Men was meeting in a church. Tony remembers playing battleball in a small room in the church….minimal space but maximum fun! Tony also played basketball for Rise Up! throughout his youth. Consequently, Tony developed a lifelong love of sports.
Tony experienced all three camp adventures available to Rise Up! youth in the summer. He found Kids Across American to be “amazing”! Doe River Gorge was great “fun”! Pathfinders was memorable as well. Going to see Speedway in Lights during the Christmas season was very enjoyable….even as the decibel level on the bus peaked! Tony described it as “loud but cool”.
Eventually Tony began working part-time in the Rise Up! student leadership program at our campus, The Refuge. It was a short tenure because of his high school track team commitment. Bu,t Tony impacted younger Rise Up! kids’ lives by challenging them to remain physically fit through athletics and by encouraging them to be involved in Rise Up! community service projects. Tony had learned the value of giving back to the community during his early years at Rise Up!
Coach Marion, Coach Diaz, Randall, Coach Randy, Andy, Blake and Moses are all Rise Up! staffers who positively impacted Tony’s life. According to Tony, “They influenced me to do right.” Rise Up! taught Tony important lessons for the present and for the future. By being involved in Rise Up!, Tony was able to focus less on the drama taking place in his home and worry less about his inability to assist his family financially. Rise Up! gave Tony purpose in his young life and helped prepare him for his future.
Through the core teachings of Rise Up!, Tony learned the value of thinking before acting. He came to realize the importance of slowing down and assessing a situation before making a decision about what to do or how to respond. Tony, admittedly, got in trouble at school for truancy. By applying what he was learning at Rise Up!, he accepted responsibility and determined to stay in school and do his best. Tony was encouraged and motivated by Rise Up!’s consistent message that he could be whatever he wanted to be and that he must not let others drag him down.
Rise Up! is thrilled that Tony has enlisted in the US Army! He will be leaving for basic training soon with several goals in mind as he begins his military career: Advanced Infantry Training, followed by Airborne School, then Airborne Assault, with Army Ranger to follow. The Ranger’s are an elite force in the Army, and Tony knows, just as he learned and practiced at Rise Up!, that through diligence and perseverance, he can attain Ranger status. In the meantime, he hopes to soon become a Cavalry Scout. These scouts are the first in and the last out when a military threat is determined.
Tony remembers the Boys to Men Creed to this day. It has helped shape him into the man he has become. He will be all he can be in the Army!