At 13, Keymon Hollis is a teenager of few words. Determined to change that, his parents look for ways for Hollis to express himself.
It paid off.
Hollis' essay on his great-grandfather Raleigh Younger, 76, won first place in Arizona State University's 35th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.
He won $100 and has been invited to attend the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration at ASU on Jan. 23.
Those who entered were asked to write an essay about a situation or individual in their life or community they think best demonstrates leadership through service.
The Wrightson Ridge School eighth-grader chose his great-grandfather because he'd spent most of the summer with him in the tiny community of Pantego, North Carolina. Younger has been raising money for a community center and is well-known for mentoring fatherless young men. He's also been known to take disadvantaged youth to Disney World when he takes family members.
Aaron Carroll, Hollis' father, described Younger as a "great man."
Dinene Remigio-Carroll, Hollis' mom, said she found out about the contest through a colleague in the Sahuarita Unified School District. She knew this would be the perfect opportunity for Hollis to express himself beyond his typical one or two word responses.
"I didn't expect for him to win, but I was ecstatic when we found out," Remigio-Carroll said.
She said Hollis really didn't want to enter but was thrilled to find out he'd won $100.
"We've been trying to teach him that when you do a little bit more, you get a little bit more back," she said.
His first draft needed a little "tweaking," but Remigio-Carroll said she was impressed with what her son had to say.
"He doesn't express emotions and for him to write those things, it was like, 'Wow!'" she said.
Hollis admitted Monday that had it been up to him he would rather have been sleeping or playing video games than writing the essay. Finding out he won was "fun" and the experience has helped him learn to write faster, he said.
He's excited about visiting ASU next week.
"It should be fun. I heard there's going to be food," he said.