When Justin Whitely won the ICAN Hero Award, it didn't come as much of a surprise to those that know him.
"No one deserves it more than Justin Whitely," says Emily Daye, a Carver Youth. "Because he's just the person that deserves an award like this. He means everything that a hero is."
"We all appreciate him, and everybody in ICAN appreciates him," adds another youth, Jeremiah Dismukes.
The teens in the Carver Youth Council could only praise their mentor and friend for winning the award.
"He's just an inspiration to us all. He proves you don't have to be a certain color to act a certain way. He's close to a big brother to me," says Dismukes.
As for the hero, he says the real honor is being able to have others notice the work of the Carver Youth. "For them [the youth] to see this, it's an inspiration to them, and it's an inspiration to me. Those are the qualities of heroism that I see," points out Whitely. To make sure the Carver Youth Council felt the honor of the award, Whitely wanted to make it just as much there's as it was his.
"To let them see what it feels like, and let them experience it with me has just been a great honor," says Whitely.
"He's accepting it on behalf of everyone, so it's like we're all doing this together," says Daye.
"We're not just celebrating Justin's award, it's also our progress," adds Dismukes.
More than anything, Justin is already holding these young men and women to a higher challenge. "In the future, I told them, that I expect them to be receiving awards like this."