Kaylee Eitelman, Pottsboro High School
In today’s non-stop world, it’s important that high school students find a place where they can be at peace. Some choose the library while others choose a field or court.
Even if Pottsboro High School’s Kaylee Eitelman had time to stop and relax, chances are she wouldn’t. Idle time means she’s not helping brighten someone’s day. Regardless of how much she already has on a full plate – school and homework, time with her horses to practice barrel racing, helping others to make sure their horses are ridden regularly and working upwards of 30 hours each week – Eitelman never turns down an opportunity to help a friend, family member or complete stranger.
“I’m not really sure about when I started with it,” she said. “It just came to me. Helping others out when they really need it just makes me feel good knowing that I may have cheered someone up or maybe taken some stress off by doing something they needed done.”
Eitelman starts most days by picking up her cousins to get them to school on time. After her own full day of classes and schoolwork, she heads to the barns to work with her horses and then ride others that need more exercise before working shifts at the local Chicken Express. After work, she gets her homework done, but only if there isn’t someone who needs a helping hand.
“She always goes out of her way to help where she feels it’s important,” Michael Woody, a local advocate who works with Eitelman, said. “She works 30-40 hours per week, but she is quick to volunteer to watch someone’s children so they can pursue their dream by attending nursing school classes.”
When she isn’t helping her fellow humans, Eitelman can usually be found at stables, where she’s taking care of horses and honing her barrel racing skills. She loves the bond she forms with her horse as they work as a team to improve their racing prowess.
“Horses just bring comfort and joy to me and are very therapeutic to me,” she said. “I think one of my favorite things about rodeo is the adrenaline, speed, and atmosphere of it. It just fits who I am. Having a bond with your horse is also one of the amazing things along with it.”
She doesn’t ride horses to gain any fame, though her riding has given her a brush with celebrity.
“I think that one of my favorite stories is being able to ride horses for Randy Travis,” she said. “On the weekends, I go and ride his horses and keep them happy. It makes me feel good that they know their horses are getting some time to play and getting love.”
After graduation, she hopes to attend college and become a veterinarian. Eitelman finds her peace with her horses and said it’s a logical next step to be able to care for them.
“I have always loved animals and love helping them and I would like to have a career I enjoy doing and am happy doing,” she said. “It would also be beneficial to me because then, I could help my own animals when in need and that is something that is very important to me! My horses are like my babies....they come first!”
Key’Undre Davis, Oakwood High School
Leaders come in different shapes and sizes. In many cases, a leader emerges because he’s willing to step forward, rally his troops and lead with a combination of words and actions. Many coaches, however, will say a more effective leader is often the underspoken player who leads by example, and when he speaks, teammates listen.
“My mom has always taught me to let my actions on the field speak for me,” Oakwood High School three-sport athlete Key’Undre Davis said. “I understand that as a player, younger kids are looking up to me, and if they see me putting in 110 percent, they will do the same.”
Mom’s words – and Alvina Relerford is seldom at a loss for them when talking about her son – ring true as Davis leads the football, basketball and track teams. But he knows that his on-field, on-court or on-track success – he has scholarship offers in doesn’t fully define who he is.
It’s his life off the court, away from the limelight his ability brings, that fully defines him.
“He is always willing to do things for others,” Relerford said. “He cuts yards. He does things for people on fixed incomes. He works on a farm every day for two or three hours after practice. There is nothing he won’t do for me or anyone. He is a lovely man and he also does a lot of work at his church.”
Davis developed his passion for helping others long before he was baptized at the Back to the Bible Church in Oakwood.
“As a young child I spent a lot of time with my grandpa and even though he had his own farming company he always had time to stop and help other people, especially the elderly,” Davis said. “It stuck with me.”
Despite a full schedule that includes class, practice and a bevy of part-time jobs, Davis makes sure he’s spending whatever free time he has following in his grandpa’s footsteps.
“During the winter months I make sure that the elderly in our community have the wood they need for their heaters,” he said. “I make sure that their heaters are running properly. In the summer I move furniture around, cut yards, paint, whatever needs to be done.”
His family always placed a priority on giving back and helping those in need, and Davis doesn’t just practice those beliefs, he embraces them.
“I love helping people,” he said. “The elderly need us the most. They made the way for us, so I try to give back, even if it’s just giving my time. Sometimes just visiting with them means the most to them.”
A mainstay in his community, he’s also been a mainstay amongst his friends, be it in social settings where he always volunteers to drive the group, or on the field or court, where his quiet leadership brings out the best in everyone.
“I’m most comfortable on the basketball court,” Davis said. “It’s taught me many life lessons that I will take into my adult life: teamwork, strategy and leadership. I try to lead by example. I set the bar high and I expect work to be done. Stay energized, driven and focused. That works off the field too.”
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