Fulfilling a young man's vision

Saturday, August 6, 2011
Jackson KcKinley, of Nevada, peels and sticks labels that read, "In Memory of Joshua Boyer" into one of the hundreds of books that Boyer, 13, of Columbia, Mo., gathered to donate to Joplin schools before he died on June 13.

Nevada, Mo. -- The Joplin tornado of May 22 and its aftermath have spawned countless tales of woe and courage and strength in times of adversity as well as stories of hope and cooperation and the love and kindness one human can show to another.

Joshua Boyer's story is one of these. He wanted to help the community of Joplin by donating some of his own books -- along with family family members's books he had gathered -- to the Joplin school system. Tragically, Boyer, 13, of Columbia, Mo. died before he was able to fulfill his wish.

But the goodwill of others intervened and Boyer's wish was fulfilled on Thursday, Aug. 4, when Nevada High School Athletic Director Kevin KcKinley delivered the 369 books that Boyer collected to the Joplin Memorial High School.

McKinley became involved in this story quite by accident. During the last week in June and the first week in July, McKinley was in Joplin volunteering with the Bright Futures, Adopt a Classroom Project. Working out of the Joplin North Middle School, McKinley was given a phone list on the first day there and tasked with "connecting donors with teachers." He ended up calling "people all over the country" for donations of books, paper, scissors and other much needed classroom supplies.

While calling numbers scattered from the East Coast to the West Coast, McKinley said, "I just happened to get this woman;" a local woman who had been a former student and a 1993 graduate of Nevada High School who still lived in the area.

Charity Fecht-Rochon is a resident of Nevada and she told McKinley that she was a donor on behalf of her nephew, Boyer. She told McKinley about the books the boy had gathered to donate. Rochon said that as soon as her nephew heard of the opportunity to help the students in Joplin, "he jumped all over it. He was very excited to be helping the kids in Joplin."

According to McKinley, Rochon told him during their phone conversation that Boyer had gathered a large number of his own books and those of family members and he and his mother went through them making sure they were suitable material and in good shape. But before the books could be donated, Boyer died in a June 13 accident. "I was speechless at the story the aunt told," McKinley said in an e-mail.

Rochon saw to it that McKinley got the books, but that left part of the family's wish unfulfilled. The request of his aunt and mother was "that the books be donated in his name," said McKinley.

The coach put the word out in the community that he needed some labels and it didn't take long for Laurie Lockwood of the Nevada High School Counseling Center to provide 500 labels that read "In Memory of Joshua Boyer."

Jackson and Bryant McKinley volunteered their time to peel and stick labels in all of the books before they were boxed and sent to Joplin, thus fulfilling the boy's wish to help the students who were so affected by the tornado.

'He was always very giving," according to his aunt.

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