Thunderbird Challenge Program
Mentee: Ashton
Years Matched: Two

Royden Heginbotham initially answered the call to mentor cadet Ashton during the residential phase of his time at Thunderbird Youth Academy. The match was a great success, and Heginbotham ended up staying on as Ashton’s mentor through the entire two-year program.

“Ashton was always so excited to see Mr. Heginbotham” said Thunderbird Challenge Program case manager Wendi Spurlock. “Though Royden lives in Big Cabin and Ashton lives in Enid, a long way to travel, the two built a trusting relationship.”

Heginbotham and Ashton went fishing and to see classic cars on some of their visits. Heginbotham was able to step in to buy Ashton a bicycle and help him get a job when he fell on hard times and needed extra support. Ashton grew to trust Mr. Heginbotham and to take his advice.

“Mr. Heginbotham showed that there are still people out there that want to help make a difference in the lives of youth” said Spurlock. “This is why we do what we do, stepping up to help our youth and showing we are there to support them. Royden is a shining example of that in action.”

About the Program: Thunderbird Youth Academy’s mission is to intervene in the lives of Oklahoma high school dropouts to effect positive change in those youth. The program challenges students physically, emotionally and educationally; teaches respect for self, others and community; and helps students meet educational goals through GED, high school credits, life-skills training and college courses.