Onto the third year of the Ron and Clair Deacon Leadership Pay it Forward Program and the students are just as excited as ever. For barely two months, the participants of the program have been once again allotted the opportunity to talk to influential people of Richard Deacon’s choice- the most recent being Kirk Penton, an awarded sports columnist.
As the “leadership” program, we spend quite a bit of time working on ourselves as young leaders and talking to adults who have taken the leadership role one step further and use it either in their career or daily life. But a large portion of the program is also dedicated to demonstrating the skills we build in the program by volunteering, fundraising, etc.
Richard Deacon began the program in honor of his grandparents, Ron and Clair Deacon, citizens of our town for nearly a century- even naming his eldest son “Reston”. He began the program in hopes of giving back to the community that raised his grandparents and allowing a headstrong, determined group of high school students to “be the change they wanted to see”.
When first being told who we as the leadership group would be meeting, we were under the impression he was a children’s sports coach alongside Richard - still intriguing, although we quickly learned this was in fact not his primary profession, a spare time hobby while he wrote sports articles. He began this when he was only young, writing for his father’s paper. This experience quickly developed into what would be his lifelong career.
Kirk Penton was a Manitoban writer, fresh to Winnipeg from Brandon in the early 2000s’. It didn’t take him long to charm the editors of the Winnipeg Sun. He spent the next 15 years covering the beloved Blue Bombers, building his career and becoming the soul of the sports section. Now residing in British Columbia with his wife and two sons, Penton is a CFL columnist for The Athletic and was unsurprisingly inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame on November 2nd.
In the two years I- Izzy Watt, have been a part of this program, we have met with some truly amazing influencers. However this particular guest sparked my curiosity in a way no others have- when asked what advice he had for us, his response was simply “read more”. You’ll hear this everywhere and nearly anyone will agree with it, but it very rarely seems to be followed.
All of my life, my parents pushed me to read and that is one lesson I will forever be grateful for. No matter the material, reading is the ultimate gateway to one’s imagination. Every once in a while I’ll forget how much I enjoy both reading and writing but this speaker reminded me of that by simply showing the success that may come by picking up a book. Pen and paper will always be mightier than the sword, as Kirk Penton blatantly portrays daily.
I think I can speak for everyone when I say we are excited to see who Richard brings in next!
The Program continues this January with another special guest and plans for the students to narrow down where the annual $2,000 donation made by the Deacon Family will wind up.