Derek enlisted in the United States Air Force in 2006 at the age of 18 years old. He is stationed in Nevada and loves serving his country. He has not been called go to Iraq or Afghanistan yet, but he is more than willing to answer the call. Derek mentors youths in his community by coaching an AAU basketball team. He is there for those boys to talk to not only about the game of basketball, but about life issues and problems as most of these boys come from single parent households. I am Derek's mother, and I have been tasked with raising Derek's niece and nephew who are now 7 and 9 years of age. Being an older parent at this stage in my life at times has been difficult. Derek has stepped up to the plate in place of their father and fills the gaps that are left in the lives of his niece and nephew. This summer Derek sent for his nephew, who stayed with him the entire summer, he has sacrificed a lot to help me to care for them as money is very tight for us. He is 22 years old and lives in Las Vegas and chooses to be an example for his niece and nephew who are in Florida. I am so proud of the man that he has become. As a young African American man in this county his life could have gone either way for him. His niece and nephew learn from him by example. He not only encourages them to do well in school, but to excel in all they do, as well as to be kind to other people. He has taught his nephew about personal grooming and always doing your personal best. He has explained to them the importance of serving your country, and talked to them about diversity and tolerance. They are so very proud of him, and want to be just like him. He is their hero, and mine.
Submitted by Sharon
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