• REEL KIDS 2016

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HTC REEL Kids 2016

On Thursday, May 26, HTC honored 50 students representing all Horry County Schools during the 16th Annual REEL Kids Awards held at the Marriott Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach.  These 50 students have proven themselves through scholastic, athletic, and community achievements in the face of recent obstacles or extenuating circumstances and have been recognized by their schools as winners of the HTC REEL Kids (Recognizing Extraordinary Examples of Leadership) award.

HTC invited Coach Jim Johnson and Jason McElwain - a AKA "J-Mac" to serve as the celebrity guest speakers for the ceremony. The duo gained national fame when a video of J-Mac's first and only appearance on the basketball court went viral. J-Mac — was a student at Greece Athena High School who had a burning passion for basketball, but because of his autism, he had never been able to play. Coach wanted to get him into a game his senior season. The game was against Spencerport, a bitter rival, and with four minutes left in the last period, Johnson stood up and pointed at Jason to sub in. The entire crowd erupted in jubilant cries as Jason stepped onto the court. And, to everyone's surprise, Jason scored 20 points, eighteen of which were from three-pointer baskets, leading Greece Athena to the division title. The fans proceeded to rush from the bleachers onto the court, lifting Jason up in celebration. Johnson could only stand and watch in awe as Jason embraced his moment of glory, realizing his dream had finally come true.

Ben UtechtCoach Jim Johnson and
Jason McElwain

Today, Coach Johnson is a sought-after keynote and workshop speaker who shares not only the amazing story and his remarkable journey with Jason but he shares valuable leadership lessons with audiences all over the country. He is also the author of the book "A Coach and a Miracle: Life Lessons from a Man Who Believed in an Autistic Boy." Until Coach's retirement this year, he and Jason continued to work together as coach and as manager-partners, working to make the lives of everyone they meet a true miracle. Now, in addition to Coach's speaking career, he and J-Mac combine their efforts on behalf of AutismUp, a local non-profit in the Rochester, NY area.

Prior to the special guest presentation by Coach Jim Johnson and Jason McElwain, HTC awarded medals to each winner for their accomplishments. The Meagan Conner Award and Taylor McKinney Award for Courage winners were also announced.

Read Coach Jim Johnson's Bio >>

See the listings & photos of all the 2016 HTC REEL Kids by clicking on the links below:



Since 2001, HTC has confirmed a local connection to the community by hosting the HTC REEL Kids
program to honor students who may otherwise be overlooked.  These students are worthy of recognition
for their outstanding leadership qualities that have helped them through special circumstances.  All
schools in Horry County, grades primary through 12th, were encouraged to participate by nominating an extraordinary student, and for the tenth year, all Horry County Schools are represented.

“When we receive the nominations from the schools and read about the trials these young people have endured, we are humbled,” said Mike Hagg, HTC Chief Executive Officer.  “These REEL Kids have struggled through physical disabilities, learning disabilities, and loss of loved ones, disease, emotional problems, abuse, abandonment and so much more.  The most remarkable fact is that the REEL Kids have overcome what some would have seen as stumbling blocks.”

The HTC REEL Kids program began in the fall of 2000 and was created to recognize one student per school who has overcome a significant obstacle in their life.  Guidance counselors were asked to nominate these students and one child from each school in Horry County was awarded the HTC REEL Kids award.  The nomination form also asked the counselor to describe how the nominee has proven him/herself through scholastic, athletic and community achievements in the face of obstacles or extenuating circumstances. 

The guidance counselor and principal signed off on the information provided, and the parent/guardian
gave permission for all personal and academic information to be released publicly by HTC in its efforts to recognize and describe award winners for this honor.   

As part of becoming an HTC REEL Kid, each child along with his/her teacher, principal or guidance counselor was interviewed for an HTC REEL Kids segmentthat airs each week during the local talk show, RiverTalk.  Each child’s inspiring story of overcoming adversity was shared during the interview. 

“The REEL Kids program is one way HTC connects with the community and is always a highlight of the
year for us at HTC.  We are amazed at the amount of maturity these children possess and can see how tough times have made them stronger.  During the interviews, the REEL Kids give advice to those who are going through difficult situations and urge others above all to never give up,” continued Hagg.

HTC is proud to help share these inspirational stories with the community. For more information
concerning the HTC REEL Kids Awards, please contact Nicole Hyman, HTC Senior Marketing Coordinator,
at 369-8498 or 902-3838.

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