Although Keshawn Sewell was born in Jamaica, he found a home in McPherson.

Sewell moved from Jamaica to New York in 2006, and then to McPherson in 2009 to attend high school.

A big city wasn’t for Sewell, so his mother decided move him to the Midwest to live with family. Sewell excelled at sports at McPherson High School where coaches like Kurt Kinnamon, of the basketball team, and Jace Pavloich, track and football, became role models.

“They played a pretty instrumental role in where I am. Kurt (Kinnamon) had the chance to see me playing around and he approached me and asked me to come out and play basketball. During those four years he helped me develop as a person not only athletically, but as a man. I really appreciate my time with him and the same goes for Jace (Pavloich),” Sewell said.

“...They pushed me really hard not only on the field, but to pursue opportunities outside of athletics to be a positive force in your community in whatever way possible — they really helped me grow as a person.”

Sewell attended Fort Hays State University, as a health and human performance major, where he recently was given the 2018 Torch Award.

The award, established in 1974, honors an outstanding graduating senior from Fort Hays State for leadership, community service and academic achievement.

Sewell said he gives credit to the people in his hometown for the honor.

“McPherson was where I feel like I got my feet on the ground. It’s where I feel like I was given the opportunity to open up a little bit more— to be who I am and to grow as a person. I think being involved in athletics really helped...the people I met in McPherson, that’s what really gave me the opportunity to go to college,” he said.

Sewell said he arrived Fort Hays wanting to make a difference at the college and in its community. He hosted a prom for more than 150 people with special needs in Hays called “A Night to Shine,” that drew more than 300 volunteers. He also raised $10,000 to build an all-inclusive handicapped-accessible basketball court for the city of Hays. A group he created, Tiger Pals, fostered mentoring relationships between Fort Hays students those with special needs.

Sewell was recognized on May 11 during the graduation luncheon while his mother watched.

“My mom was able to come back from New York. Just for her to see me to be announced and see some of my accomplishments ­— I know she was extremely proud and was really emotional so that was really neat to see,” he said.

Sewell said he hopes to continue his passion for sports, and making a difference, after college.

“Right now I’m working on developing a sports camp in Topeka for kids in the Midwest. Our goal is to offer a subsidized rate for families so they can send their kids and have them enjoy a premier sports camp experience,” he said.