By LYNSIE DICKERSON
Gold Standard Staff Writer
Richard Thackrey, a senior at Fort Knox High School and member of the Devers Middle School and Teen Center Boys and Girls Club, was recently named the Kentucky Military Youth of the Year in a competition hosted by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Thackrey won the local Youth of the Year competition earlier this year, and will advance to the regional competition in Chicago this summer.
The Youth of the Year competition recognizes youth who have contributed to their community, school, family and local Boys and Girls Club and achieved academic success, all while overcoming obstacles in their lives.
“When (Thackrey) came to the center, he realized that he wasn’t the person he thought he was,” said Dwight Coble, Richard’s mentor at Devers.
“I wasn’t one of those kids that had…family trouble or anything, so when I came here I came here thinking that I was OK, nothing was really wrong with me,” said Thackrey, who began volunteering at Devers when he was in eighth grade. “I just came to help them out, but as time went on I realized that they were really there to help me; because I found out that I was really angry, a really depressed person, I was really stressed out, I didn’t enjoy life. They made me realize this and then they helped me cope with it.”
Thackrey said that focusing on grades, school and sports, all while wanting to do things perfectly, was the source of his stress.
His activities include serving as the captain of his high school’s cross country and track teams, the battalion commander of FKHS JROTC program, a member of the National Honor Society, and he has dedicated more than 2,250 hours to community service, just to name a few.
Although the activities and leadership roles have kept him busy, Thackrey said they’ve helped him achieve his goals. He also said the support of his parents and mentors has made him who he is today.
Thackrey is now more mature than he was when he first arrived at Devers, Coble said.
After high school, Thackrey—who earned a four-year Army ROTC scholarship to the University of Kentucky—plans to attend UK to major in international economics and foreign languages, and join the Army to eventually become an officer.
“Since I got an Army ROTC scholarship, I’m obligated to serve the Army, but that’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was like, 2 (years old),” Thackrey said. “I’ve wanted to help people, help the country, serve my country like my dad did and my relatives (did).”
In the meantime, Thackrey said he wants to continue sharing his story with others and inspiring people to speak up.
“I want people that have known my situation and have been where I have been—but they haven’t spoken up like I have—to know that it’s ok to speak up and get help,” Thackrey said. “(I want them to know) that the Boys and Girls Club of America is there to help you, and that’s what Devers Middle School and Teen Center has done for me. And so, because of this, I hope to go on and make sure people that are in my situation know that they can speak up.”
“One day, when I’m finally retired and I’m sitting down and I look back at my life, I just want to think that I made a difference in people’s lives,” he said, “(that) I did something to help, (that) I have a legacy somewhere.”