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Salute Our Heroes: Darrell Stewart appreciates his 31 year tenure in Parks and Rec.

Darrell Stewart retirement reception at the Lake Shawnee Event Center (June 25)
Darrell Stewart retirement reception at the Lake Shawnee Event Center (June 25)(Joseph Hennessy)
Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 6:52 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - For 31 years at Shawnee County Parks and Recreation, Darrell Stewart has been motivated by young people.

He said, “I don’t try to see something from me in them, I just try to see the best they can be. When I look at a kid, I go ‘oh, he’s going to be a super leader. He just needs somebody to push him a little bit.”

His drive to help the community comes from his mother, who passed away when he was just 15 years old.

“When my mother was ill, I promised her that I would try to make life better for me and my family and whatever other kids I could help and that led me to Topeka.”

He’s done much of that work at the Hillcrest Community Center. He helped it become the first community park to benefit from an overall upgrade. The park built the community’s first outdoor fitness equipment area, the first futsal court, equipped the playground with new equipment, new security lighting and upgrades to the pool.

He’s encouraged by the upgrades and benefits it can have on people.

“The kids nowadays, and even then, they just want something to do. Once I had the opportunity to provide them something to and I got to work with some great people on both the city side and county side and I saw how hard they were working to provide services, for the community that I live in, I knew I had to step it up.”

Stewart and his wife also stepped up at home, caring for more than 75 children as foster parents.

He ends his three decades of service with numerous awards and acknowledgments.

“I really appreciate the kind thoughts that everyone’s words have given me, it’s just never been about the awards. It’s about my relationship with the community and my relationship with the individuals, getting them to see their potential and giving them opportunities to get out Topeka, and then come back and help mentor Topeka.”

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