“If I ever make it big,” he told his dad, “I'm going to help people who need it.”
But he hasn't waited until hitting the big time.
After an EF4 tornado destroyed homes and killed two near Shawnee on May 19 — it missed his house by only a quarter mile — Anderson spent four or five days volunteering around the area. The hours were long. The work was tedious. One day, it was cool and rainy and pretty darn miserable.
But the reward was obvious.
“You could tell the people really appreciated it,” Anderson said.
So, when I called to tell Anderson about his scholarship, he had those people on his mind.
He told me he wanted to donate his scholarship money to tornado victims.
Never before had one of the scholar-athlete scholarship winners wanted to do anything like that.
Even though I thought it was one of the coolest gestures ever, I felt in necessary to tell him that the scholarship money could be deferred a few years. He has scholarships right now that will pay for everything at Ole Miss, but maybe there'd be a time when other scholarships he has will expire. Maybe he'd want to use the money for grad school.
Anderson wasn't swayed.
He wanted to donate the money.
After discussion at The Oklahoman and with our program partners at the Jim Thorpe Association, everyone signed off on Anderson's wishes. A $1,000 donation to the American Red Cross will be made in his name in the coming weeks.
Along the way, everyone said how neat they thought the whole thing was.
I couldn't agree more.
Even if I'm calling kids to tell them that they've won scholarships for many years to come, I'll never hear a reaction better than this.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.