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McGowan Courage Award

McGowan Courage Award: Mansfield Senior's Khyler Howard

Editor's Note

The McGowan Courage award, presented by the Mansfield Rotary Club, honors local high school students who have faced life experiences of adversity and hardship with extraordinary courage, tenacity, and fortitude. 

Khyler Howard's story was written by Kristopher Beasley. 

Khyler Howard is a true definition of what it means to live with the “Eye of the TYger” and demonstrates what courage in a young person looks like.

Khyler will graduate from Mansfield Senior High having completed the Cyber Security career tech program while maintaining a “B” average GPA; all of this while enduring a childhood that was marked by 45 surgeries by the age of 9.

Khyler was born with a cleft palate and Pierre Robin Syndrome and had his first surgery at age one to repair his cleft palate. He was then diagnosed with scoliosis and kyphosis - both disorders that affect the spine. He had growing rods placed in his back to help with his spine at age three.

Over the next few years he endured several more surgeries to replace hardware and fight infections. At age five he was in traction for over 30 days and had to wear a halo device on two occasions to try and align his spine.

At age six he had his first fusion surgery in his cervical spine. He started school at age seven while continuing to deal with health issues including surgeries to repair intestinal issues, diagnosis of Restrictive Lung Disease, sleep apnea and short gut syndrome.

In seventh grade he had a major fusion surgery in his thoracic spine and spent several months out of school recovering. By the time he reached high school he had endured over 45 surgeries and over 100 days in the hospital.

“What really stands out to me is Khyler’s refusal to accept help that he didn’t need," said his mother Corina.

"He has always been on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and he got special rules with that, like longer times to complete testing and assignments. But about fourth grade or so, he stopped accepting the help he didn’t need. He didn’t want to be singled out or seen as different. Yes he had physical limitations, but mentally was fine, and didn’t want to take advantage. That is a quality I think is lacking in most people, let alone a young man his age." 

He continues to struggle with lung issues, back pain, and at times anxiety due to his smaller stature. While enduring all of this, Khyler has been a model high school student. He is a consistent hard worker and very disciplined in his studies.

“Honestly, I am just proud to be graduating. I finally made it through,” said Khyler.

“I remember being in seventh grade and finding out if I failed a class I would have to retake it. I thought about how disappointed my mom and dad would be if I failed a class and how disappointed I would be in myself. That helped push me to get good grades and make it through my classes.”

His teachers call him a “constant in the classroom” and “always engaged.” He has a “good attitude in class.” They say he is “a wonderful young man” and he is “respectful and kind.” He “knows his stuff in Cyber Security” and “meets each challenge and expectation.”

I am proud to nominate Khyler Howard to be Mansfield Senior High’s Rotary McGowan Courage Award recipient.

Beasley , K. (2022, April 26).McGowan Courage Award: Mansfield Senior's Khyler Howard.