A custodian at Greenbrier West High School in Charmco had what he described as one of the proudest days of his life on Thursday, Sept. 16 after being surprised by a visit from West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and Babydog.
In the most recent round of prize-announcement in the “Do it for Babydog” vaccination sweepstakes, Waylon Gilkeson, an Army veteran and employee of the high school for nearly three years, was awarded a $100,000 scholarship to continue his education at the institution of his choosing.
“We have a gentleman today that’s been with us a long time,” Justice told the crowd of students and faculty gathered near the school’s football field. “And he’s on a quest in his life to do things. And maybe just maybe it’s not too late for him to go back to school, and absolutely get an education that he’s not been able to do because of financial situations, or whatever it may be.”
As Justice presented Gilkeson with the novelty check, he told him “Waylon, this is for your full-ride scholarship to get to go to the next level that you’ve wanted to go to, and I could never in the world be more proud. Do this, and do this with greatness.”
In his closing remarks, Justice told the student body, “Listen, I know you’re playing Webster Springs, and it’ll probably be just like a warm-up game for you — a practice session. You guys are the greatest of the greatest. I love your banner. And absolutely, there is none better in my wife’s eyes — none better — than Greenbrier West! God bless you.”
After the presentation, Gilkeson took a few moments to speak with members of the media.
“I got vaccinated back in August,” Gilkeson said. “I’d rather help myself and the people around me, rather than, if I catch it (COVID-19) and other people would have to suffer like I’d be suffering.”
Gilkeson told reporters that the other proudest day of his life was when he graduated from Army basic training.
When asked how he intended to use the scholarship, Gilkeson said, “I plan on probably trying to get my bachelor’s degree in teaching. There are a lot less teachers available here than in any other state. I’d like to help this generation and the younger generation, and also to better myself.”
Greenbrier County School Superintendent Jeff Bryant spoke highly of Gilkeson after the presentation.
Bryant told The West Virginia Daily News, “he’s (Gilkeson) a valued employee, a hard worker and he takes his job very seriously. This is a fantastic opportunity for a very deserving young man to do nothing but better himself.”
Bryant went on to explain that Gilkeson normally works the 4 p.m. to midnight shift. In order to pull off Thursday morning’s surprise, Greenbrier West High School Principal Amy Robertson asked Gilkeson to work a double-shift to “help prepare the football field for Friday night’s game” against Webster County.
“He is a really devoted worker,” Bryant said. “Waylon agreed to work the double-shift without a moment’s hesitation. That’s just the kind of employee he is. I’m just so happy that he’ll have the chance to further his education and pursue his dreams.”