WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) - Christopher Burrell is a senior an Northeast Magnet, but he's also a kid with a great story. Burrell was taken away from his mother as a kid, shortly after two of his siblings died.
"In the police car, after being taken from my home, I cried because my mother's grief was being misunderstood as her not loving us."
Chris opened up about his challenging childhood in front of hundreds of strangers at this year's the Youth of the Year competition. His story and delivery earned him a spot to represent Kansas in the regional Youth of the Year competition in Texas.
"Chris is an exemplary young man," said his mother, Valyn Burrell. "He is the definition of kindness and I could not be more proud of him."
Valyn had Chris when she was 17. Monday, she recalled taking her senior pictures with Chirs as a baby.
"He wanted me to be in his senior pictures this year, since he was in mine," she laughed.
Chris is an athlete at East High, and he currently holds a 3.7 GPA. Among his community service over the years, he also has spent a great deal of time at the local Boys and Girls Club. Here is where he said he got his support in academics and community involvement. His mentor and director of the club, Juston White, says this is the mission for all the kids that come into the Boys and Girls Club.
"Chris is a great student and athlete," said White. "I was there when he accepted his first $5,000 so now looking at almost $100,000 for him, is exciting."
Chris has been awarded $70,000 in scholarship money.
"We're very happy," said Chris's mom. "He actually is studying really hard for his ACT test because he was told with a high enough score, he could get an additional $30,000."
Burrell was accepted into the Mechanical Engineering Program at multiple schools including: Wichita State, K-State, Wichita State and Kansas University. He plans on applying for Youth of the Year in 2018, but I have been told he will be competing with other kids from the Boys and Girls Club, who hope to follow in his footsteps.
"Chris is one of a kind," said White. "He's a great student. He's very comical. He's very involved in the boys and girls club and his school on northeast magnet but also a great athlete on the basketball team for Wichita East High School."
Burrell will take his ACT tests the next week. Those scores will determine if he is eligible for $30,000 in additional scholarships.
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