There was a story once told about a 12-year-old boy growing up in the ghetto of Davenport, fatherless, confused and certainly not destined for a future worthy of the laurels young men dream about.

The story was important, not because of the misfortune of a single boy whose tale had become commonplace, but for the character, like many other characters, who are rarely discussed and frequently dismissed. The character in this story served not only as an educator, but a father-figure, coach, mentor and life-long friend; a man who believed that a young boy faced with a troubled childhood could in fact set forth and change the world.

The leader in this story instilled unwavering confidence in the boy to do better, be better and fight against all odds.

My name is Captain Ryan Wilson, an Airborne Ranger qualified officer in the U.S. Army. As I wake up each day to lead the finest men and women our nation has to offer, I never forget to stop and think about where I came from and the influences I had along the way.

As you see, this story was told at the 2010 Iowa Excellence in Education awards ceremony. The same ceremony where Mike Matson was recognized for going above and beyond an educator's calling. A single educator whose own belief and passion in a young boy served as the example all aspire to emulate.

You see, I was the boy in the story; the story that saved my life.

Ryan Wilson

formerly of Davenport

Stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas

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