Students inspire Dads and Little Dudes, Princesses program

Ronda Wertman
Special to the News Tribune
Haiden Fitzpatrick (left) is shown with Mineral County superintendent of schools Troy Ravenscroft as she was recognized as the spark behind the Dads and Little Princesses program of the Aubrey Stewart Project.
Zavon Evans (left) is shown with Keyser High School principal Lois Spencer as he was recognized by the Aubrey Stewart Project as the inspiration for the Dads and Little Dudes program.

KEYSER - Program founder T.J. Coleman recently called students Zavon Evans and Haiden Fitzpatrick an inspiration, thanking them for helping to spark what has become known as the Dads and Little Dudes and Princesses program.

“We today need to place as many young people in the light so they can shine,” Coleman said of the philosophy behind the recognition

“Zavon Evans and Haiden Fitzpatrick, thank you both for being an inspiration to me,” said Coleman, who also founded the Aubrey Stewart Project. “One day, when you are grown, you will see the children in our program and remember that you were the spark that started it all,” he said.

Both the Little Dudes and Princesses are an outreach of the Aubrey Stewart Project, which promotes unity for all and works for inclusion for all ages, especially the area’s children and teens.

“Anyone can be an inspiration to others regardless of age or size,” Coleman said as he read a letter from his coach Ed Jordan, noting that the letter was the inspiration for recognizing Evans and Fitzpatrick.

“It’s customary for younger people to look up to their elders, relatives, teachers, coaches, etc.,” said Jordan in the letter. “In this case it’s the other way around. As an older person I am proud to look up to a younger man.

“What you have done with the Aubrey Stewart and Clifton Brooks project is remarkable,” Jordan wrote of Coleman. “Very few people your age or any other age can say they have done so much to perpetuate the memory of local heroes. Without your efforts they would only be memories to their families and nothing but names to others. I am proud to say I know you,” Jordan wrote.

“Tonight I am the adult recognizing the efforts of two much younger than I,” said Coleman, as Evans was escorted to the podium by Keyser High School principal Lois Spencer.

“Zavon Evans was the inspiration for me to establish out Little Dads and Dudes program. In an effort to spend more time with him, I started the program. It was then I realized that other boys without dads needed a consistent man in their lives too,” Coleman said as he presented Evans with a Visa gift card and certificate recognizing him as the inspiration for the program.

“You all are doing big things here,” said Coleman, noting the importance of both Fitzpatrick’s and Evans’ recognition, as Fitzpatrick was escorted to the front of the room by Mineral County superintendent of schools Troy Ravenscroft.

“Haiden Fitzpatrick would be my inspiration to start our Little Princesses without Dads in their lives program,” said Coleman, also presenting her with a certificate and Visa gift card.

“I’m in the recognition business. My purpose in life from God is to put people in the light to make them shine. Because of these two special children we have 13 little boys and four little girls in our program,” he explained.

For two years the boys have participated in a variety of outings including bowling, football games, fishing, parades, riding side by sides, four-wheelers and motorcycles, swimming parties and educational events such as a trip to Ashby’s Fort.

“He’s really grown and matured,” said Coleman of Evans, noting that he picks him up after school.

With the help of volunteers Grandma Suellen Clay and Kathy Jenkins, Coleman and the girls have had tea parties, doll play dates, nail painting, spa days, frozen yogurt days, bowling, swimming parties and some shared activities with the boys.

When asked about her favorite activity, Fitzpatrick was quick to say, “All of it.”