Home Local Sports An open letter of gratitude to Raider Nation

An open letter of gratitude to Raider Nation

Not very often have I been the featured person in an article, but this week was a big week. And it was kind of neat to be on the other side for once. 

Last Monday, I received my much-needed, and long put-off hearing aids. My suffering from severe-profound and progressive hearing loss hasn’t been something I’ve shared with many people outside my close friends and family. 

But all of that changed when the community that I’m proud to call home stepped up and went above and beyond anything I’d have imagined.

By now, it’s been published by two outlets that a large group of Richmond Senior High School student-athletes and their families, along with numerous Richmond County School employees and coaches, gifted me over half the funding needed to pay for my new devices.

My column this week is an open letter to these special people, as well as the dozens of others in Raider Nation who have accepted me as one of their own.

Long story short, I was told to be at the new softball buildings on Richmond’s campus Thursday for an official unveiling. When I got there, I noticed a lot of student-athletes and their parents, but no one from the softball program. Even though I thought it was odd, I got my camera out and was ready to get to work.

Instead, Dr. Wendy Jordan, who has been a great mentor to my wife and I since we moved here, and someone I call my “southern mama,” shifted the focus on me. I’m not one for the limelight, especially since I’m so used to covering our local athletes and making sure they’re the ones getting the attention they deserve.

It was a sweet, humbling and shocking couple of minutes as I realized what was happening. Like I told them, I’m not a very emotional person, but they almost broke me when they presented me with such a generous gift.

While I needed the hearing aids (since I’m about 70 percent deaf in one ear, and 20 percent in the other), I never thought I “deserved” them. If you’re in the market for these devices, which I hope many people aren’t, they’re relatively expensive and most health insurance companies offer little or no help.

Thanks to Dr. Joy Houston, RCS’ audiologist, and Dr. Jordan, my new devices were already reduced in price. But then the dozens of names written inside the card presented to me really took my breath away. To see that many people care about a person is truly remarkable.

I’ve always considered my jobs as an educator in Richmond County and the ROSports editor to be two career paths I love. I got lucky when they both aligned and I get the opportunity to teach all day and cover local athletics by night.


I view myself as a guy who has two jobs that are fun, challenging and almost like hobbies. There are so many perks of both jobs that allow me to live out both of my dreams. 

People often tell me that I have an impact on this community, our school system, the student-athletes I cover and the families who are along for the ride. 

While that is extremely humbling, at the end of the day, I always remind myself I’ve been put here for a reason. Whether it’s teaching literature or writing articles and spotlighting our youth, this is my purpose.

A good friend of mine told me the other night that sometimes people look too far ahead in search of the goodness in their lives. Instead, he said, people (myself included) need to stop and look at what’s right in front of them, the circumstances and people in their daily lives. Oftentimes the “good stuff” is already there.

And that’s how I feel about Raider Nation, Richmond County and the families and friends who have helped my wife and I succeed since we got here. Everywhere I look, or everywhere I go, there are people willing to help, willing to be friendly and willing to make you a part of their family.

I am thankful, blessed, full of gratitude and humbled by the showing of support by so many. I could keep writing, but I don’t feel I could ever encapsulate how strong my love is for so many people. 

So, I’ll leave it here — because of the helping hands and open hearts of so many special people in our community, I can hear better. That will allow me to excel in my classroom, be better on the sidelines, and most importantly, not ask my wife to repeat herself over and over again. 

There has already been a huge difference in the week I’ve had them. It’s really cool to be able to hear more clearly, hear background noises and different frequencies I haven’t heard in a long time.

I am forever indebted to those who helped me reach this much-needed milestone in my life. And because of them, and all of Raider Nation, I promise to uphold the high standard of local sports coverage I’ve brought the past three school years.

Much love and many thanks. And here’s to sports being back soon.


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Kyle Pillar is a 16-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.