Jefferson Award: Will Isgett, organizing Miss Darlington and Miss Darlington Teen
Darlington County, S.C. (WPDE) —
Members of one local community will tell you that Will Isgett and Darlington are virtually synonymous.
"He's an amazing person. He really is. He's a miracle," said Shannon Elliott, talking about Jefferson Award nominee Will Isgett. "Everybody knows Will Isgett. Everyone just adores him."
While Elliott is his third cousin, Elliott says Isgett is more like a brother and a friend, and he's truly an example to everyone else.
"The doctor said he would be in a wheelchair 10 years ago. But, look at him now. He has never given up and he will continue," she said.
What keeps him going? Pageants.
He has volunteered for 20 years with the Miss South Carolina organization, and then helped start Miss Darlington and Miss Darlington Teen.
"It's a passion. I was a journalist for 14 years and had to retire due to muscular dystrophy and epilepsy," said Isgett.
He says mentoring young women is his calling.
"The girls have become like my family to me. I have mentored 32 young women," he said.
"Pageants, as I tell other people, they help girls with insecurities and they help you become confident in everything," said Miss Darlington Teen Saviah Miller.
Saviah Miller will be the first to say Isgett has impacted the futures of so many young women.
"It really does help you find your inner beauty, and to help you help others. It's all about community service, and you can get some scholarships also," said Miller.
"Just to be able to give a girl a chance to go to college and to continue their education, or pay off their student loans or to pay for their books, just means a lot to me," said Isgett.
His girls have walked away with more than $30,000 in college scholarships.
"I've had women go on to be teachers, nurses, have high profile jobs with corporations, and I still stay in touch with all of them," he said.
When asked how to make the kind of impact Isgett does, those who know him had one simple instruction.
"Do what Will does. Just keep a smile on your face and just never give up," said Elliott.
To nominate an outstanding volunteer in your community for The Jefferson Award, click here.