Gene Thomas of Norman revs up his day with the throaty roar of a high-performance dirt bike. It's out on the off-road track with mud flying and bike bouncing that Gene finds a special kind of adrenaline rush.
He has a passion for mechanized sports, and now he has made it his mission to help young lives.
Gene organizes FCA motorcross/off-road camp in Oklahoma every year. For months, he works to get it read so maybe he, or one of his staff members, can make a difference in a young life that needs some direction.
That's why his good friend, Randy Hemphill, nominated Gene for Pay it 4Ward.
After Cindy Stewart from First Fidelity Bank gave Randy $400 to Pay it 4Ward to Gene, Randy told us why his friend is so deserving.
"He's always given his own time, he's always given his own money, parts, expertise, and more importantly, he helps build character," Henphill said. "I think that's the most important thing. A lot of growth of young souls is happening because of Gene."
After Randy surprised Gene with the cash reward, at the Draper off-road track, Gene talked about his commitment to Oklahoma's youth... helping kids on a spiritual level and helping them enjoy life on a simpler level.
That's something he has witnessed firsthand at this year's FCA camp.
"There were two 14-year-olds walking down this road," Gene said. "And they were singing this song, 'I feel good na na na na na I knew that I would.' As they got closer, I recognized one of them and I asked him if he was singing... So we have two 14-year-old boys who are, at 9 o'clock at night, walking down this dirt road singing a song instead of staring into their cell phones. And to me, it was awesome."
And of course, the $400 from Pay it 4Ward will go right back into the camp, because for Gene, the mission is simple: "We do it for the children," Gene said.
He's paying it 4ward full throttle.