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Open doors and open hearts benefit community

July 20, 2018 – He’s been in the newspaper a lot.

Mostly he shows up in articles about football. He played for the Excelsior Springs Tigers. He worked hard throughout his four years in high school. But for a couple of local boys, Landon Seely represents much more than just the number 12 on the back of a black-and-gold jersey.

The friendship between Seely and Collin Borchert began as Borchert went through kindergarten, and Seely became assigned as his fourth-grade reading buddy. A reading buddy acts as a mentor, and helps a younger child learn to read, Seely said. But Amber Borchert, Collin’s mom, said something just clicked between Seely and her older son. When she saw them interact, she said Collin would get a look of peace and contentment. And Seely never seemed to grow tired of his little buddy.

Their friendship is the result of a school buddy system that started a decade ago.

“Landon’s never been your typical kid,” said Borchert, and Seely’s mom, Melissa Berry, would agree.

Berry said her son always helps others, even as a child. He often reached out to other kids when they needed help, whether in sports or academics.

Seeing the bond between the two boys, Borchert said each of the two boys possessed something the other needed. She said watching the two connect, and then widen their circle to include Collin’s younger brother Carter, enriched her life.

Huge heart and great determination

Certainly, the three boys benefited from it. Borchert said Seely pushed her own sons beyond their comfort zones. They modeled what kids can accomplish if they choose a goal and stick with it. Seely encourages Collin to work harder, practice longer, try for bigger and better, all while showing him he could do it while maintaining respect for himself and for others.

Berry said Seely’s huge heart, paired with his determination and ability to set goals and achieve them, may be what makes him a role model for other kids. But for Seely himself, the fact other kids look up to him plays second to simply making the right choices in life. He attributed a lot of his strength to his mom and said her own strength influenced him tremendously.

He said he hopes the boys he mentored through the years remember their value and worth. He said even though you may lose friends as you grow older and refuse to give into peer pressure, he hopes Collin, Carter and others “stay out of things, keep their heads on straight, and know they can accomplish whatever they want.”

It takes a village

For Borchert, she said she hopes more people in this community open their doors and hearts to others, with the belief that it does sometimes take a village to raise a child. Borchert said Excelsior Springs remains full of great youth like Seely, who spend years building relationships and impacting the community with their positivity. She also said she could never thank Berry enough for sharing her son with her family. She said she appreciates a buddy systems started a decade ago that resulted in lifelong friendship. Seely said he enjoyed all the time he spent with the Borcherts. Their friendship means a lot to him, he said.

For Berry, as she watches the son she raised prepare to go to college, where he will pick up his football career on a bigger field, she said she feels great pride in the young man he became.

“I am so proud of the path he chose to take in high school and follow his goals and not be pressured to follow things that were not part of his plan for life after high school.  I have always tried to teach him that being a good person would always be what people remember most about you over any other talent you had,” Berry said.

Featured image: Connor Borchert, Collin Borchert, Landon Seely

By Samantha Kilgore •

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