'He just inspires people to be better'

'He just inspires people to be better'

EUGENE, Ore.--  When students at North Eugene High School students think of Thomas Hiura, they think of someone who'd give the shirt off his back to see them succeed.

"I have a reason to get up in the morning," Thomas explained, "and that's to see people smile and to see people enjoying school."

Hiura spends time in the spotlight, but his former teacher Jennifer Scurlock said it's what happens behind the scenes that really makes him stand out. "He really takes pride in his school, he takes pride in others, and wanting them to be the best they can be."

A year ago Hiura started the Random Acts of Kindness Club. "Every week we try to do all sorts of different projects," Thomas told us, "so one day we just decided, let's just make a banner to just remind people that they're beautiful for who they are."

North Eugene Senior Ashley Litalien said they may seem like small gestures for students, but they make a big difference. "I think I'm a more positive person because of him."

The group's kindness isn't limited to just students. Scurlock said the kids delivered fresh-baked cookies to the teachers at school as well.

High school senior Brian Steveson took KVAL News on a tour to show more of what people don't see.

"Thomas cares so much about North Eugene High School that he's dedicated to put his own money in it," he said.

Steveson points out posters that Thomas designed and made; welcome mats; paint for the walls; expensive equipment such as speakers for the students to use. "And he Sharpied on here the North Eugene insignia on it," he said.

But perhaps the best investment: buying hundreds of school supplies for students who need them. Thomas said coming from a very low-income background, he knows what it's like to struggle. But believes everyone deserves a chance.

"I'm not a person who just walks through the halls and just feels like oh, nobody has problems," Hiura said. "I want to do something because I can empathize with people."

KVAL News first heard of Thomas Hiura after the Eugene's Chamber of Commerce awarded him the city's "Future First Citizen Award" for 2011. A champion in debate, sports, music; a youth group leader, and gay-straight alliance advocate, students voted Hiura most inspirational for more than just performance, but for being a friend.

Another North Eugene Senior, Brandon Davis, described a time when Thomas not only stretched out a hand but a heart as well. "I was just able to talk to him, and express how I was feeling, and he genuinely showed he cared. And he talked to me about it, and I got through it because of Thomas, which is really great."

As ASB President, Hiura's says his position has been a true test of character. Not only for himself, but others as well. "I know a whole bunch of people who will glorify me, but then I'll see them turn around and insulting other people or tearing people down in all sorts of ways. And I don't think that's right."

Hiura makes it a point to to talk to students in a way they understand. He performed this rap to promote a recent blood drive. "Blood drive coming and we want you to be there, show our neighbors that we care, so there's plenty of blood for the patients who need them and many will be spared." Thomas says there was such as great turnout, some of them had to be turned away.

Classmates like Brandon Davis say it's not hard to find something endearing about Thomas, "His presence itself, is just so like, lighthearted yet so caring. It just inspires people to be better."

When it comes to Thomas Hiura, he says he isn't anything spectacular, he's just doing his part. "I just want to see this community be where everyone feels safe, everybody feels welcome, and everyone has fun."