How One Student’s Big Thank You Spread Around The World
Three years ago during his senior year, Chick-fil-A Leader Academy student Hector Montez had no idea that a small act of kindness through his Big Thank You project would spread around the world and inspire others to find unique ways to thank people in their lives.
“As president of my Chick-fil-A Leader Academy club I wanted to showcase my leadership skills and set an example for other students. So, for my Big Thank You project I decided to save up my tip money from my weekend job at a local restaurant in order to purchase a pair of Nike Air Jordan’s that my coach told me he had wanted since 6th grade.”
During Hector’s big reveal, a fellow student captured the moment on video and the reaction was moving to say the least. The emotional video was posted to social media and quickly went viral with over tens of millions of views. Most major news outlets caught wind of the story and began sharing it with their viewers. Even Nike was touched by Hector’s kindness, sending him his own pair of special Air Jordan’s. A highlight for Hector was when he and his coach, Mr. Thomas Walser, were invited to the Steve Harvey show and surprised with $15,000 to go towards classroom supplies and college.
“It’s definitely not something I expected to happen and I’m glad so many people were inspired by it. Chick-fil-A Leader Academy taught me about selfless service and the importance of leading by serving others before ourselves. Also, that it’s important to not discount yourself because you’re young but to have confidence in yourself, to take initiative, and do whatever you set out to do.”
Hector went on to play soccer at South Plains College in Texas and is now serving as PT of his platoon for the US Army. He’s currently stationed at Fort Gordon in Augusta Georgia and says he plans to spend 8 more years in service and then start his own business. While he hasn’t landed on exactly what business he will start, Hector says he’s confident that he has the leadership skills to do whatever he sets his mind to.
“I think Chick-fil-A Leader Academy is such an important program for high school students. The leadership skills you gain by not just learning about teamwork and communication, but also how to plan and pull off a community project, is huge for young people like me. I wouldn’t be where I am without the lessons I learned through this program.”