Family helps youth succeed

Published 10:08 am Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Golden Rule encourages us all to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

K.C. Christian is the beneficiary of someone who lives by this rule.

Christian, a 2006 graduate of Rock Hill High School and 2010 graduate of The Ohio State University, firmly believes that without the intervention of a local family, he would not be who he is today.

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He’s certain he wouldn’t have been the stud running back he was for the Redmen from ’02 to ’05. He’s positive his academic scholarship at OSU would have been a pipe dream. He believes that his now realized dream of being an Ohio State Buckeye football player wouldn’t have been an option.

And he has obtained all of this and more, thanks to the caring nature of one family, specifically one man.

He credits Jim Howard, Jr., who also answers to “Jimmer,” as being the person who made him who he is today.

“Without Jimmer, I know my life wouldn’t be the same as it is now,” Christian said. “He saw the bad things I was doing, but he also saw potential in me and stepped in and said, ‘enough is enough.’”

Eight years ago, Christian, 22, was a student at Rock Hill Middle School.

He admitted to being a troublesome child, which is evidenced by two suspensions by the school for disorderly behavior.

“I hung out with a rowdy crowd, doing things I shouldn’t have been doing at 14 years old,” Christian recalled. “I knew I was intelligent, but I was wasting it.”

But fate wouldn’t allow this young man to squander his talents.

He formed a strong bond with classmate Nicholas “Nich” Howard and, unbeknownst to Christian at the time, his life began drifting back to the right road.

“Jimmer kind of took over from there,” he said, fondly recalling the compassion of his friend’s father.

The Howard home soon became Christian’s home away from home.

“I spent most of my time there,” he recalled, adding that he had his own bed in the Howard household and also took annual vacations with the family.

Utilizing the fruits of the family business, Howard and Son Paint and Body Shop, Jimmer also gave Christian his first two vehicles, while also instilling the work ethic he would display in the future by requiring him to put effort into rebuilding these gifts.

“He was teaching me a trade and teaching me about responsibility,” Christian said of Jimmer.

Jimmer and his wife, Dee Ann, are very humble about their role in shaping Christian’s life.

“We always felt like he was another son,” Jimmer said. “He was here so much we kind of just took him under our wing.”

Christian, who is now a full-time grad student at OSU, was certain that Jimmer would downplay the Howard family’s role in helping raise him.

He was correct.

“I never thought of it that way,” Jimmer said of his influence in Christian’s life. “He was just one of the kids.”

“He’s such a humble person,” Christian emphasized. “I’m thankful for the whole family. I wasn’t their burden to carry, but they did it anyway. They had nothing to gain from it.”

But Christian certainly did.

Following his stellar academic and athletic career at Rock Hill, Christian accepted his academic scholarship at OSU and walked on to the football team, where he was named Scout Team Player of the Week eight times. He also dressed for the national title game in ’08, the ’09 Fiesta Bowl and this year’s Rose Bowl.

He is currently pursuing a Master’s of Education degree in teaching and has a 2-year-old daughter, Keira, with his wife, the former Leah Hankins.

Yet, to Christian, none of this would have happened without the kindness Jimmer Howard showed to him throughout his teenage years.

“He believed in me,” Christian said. “That’s all some kids really need.”

Jimmer, who said he and Dee Ann are very proud of Christian’s accomplishments in life, agreed with the house guest who frequented their home throughout his high school years.

“We knew the troubles he had, but he had so much potential, as you can see now,” Jimmer said. “There are probably thousands of kids out there who could just use a helping hand.”

That helping hand made all the difference in the world to K.C. Christian.

“I don’t think I could ever thank him enough.”

Chalk up another life changed by someone who acts on their ability to help…someone who “does unto others….”