Rev. Dr. Vant Hardaway: the power of prayer

"Not only does he talk it, but he walks it and lives it, and that's a man I want to look up to," said Datras Bradley of Rev. Dr. Vant Hardaway. (Image: WTVC)

You've heard the saying the "power of prayer," but for one young man he says it's literally transformed his troubled life.

It's why he nominated the person he calls "father" for this week's Pay it Forward.

This week's Pay it Forward takes us to Athens.

We met a young man who says he was bullied as a child, but instead of being punished for lashing out at school, the security supervisor became his biggest fan.

He's at least six feet tall, has a soothing voice and gives bear hugs like no other.

Reverend Dr. Vant Hardaway is the former Supervisor of Safety for the McMinn County Board of Education.

He met 19-year-old Datras Bradley while working at McMinn County High School more than 10 years ago.

"Not only does he talk it, but he walks it and lives it, and that's a man I want to look up to," said Datras Bradley.

Datras says as a troubled teen he was bullied and continually lashed out in the classroom.

"He did something you don't see many school board members do, and he prayed for me and cared for me, like I was going through so much anger inside me," said Bradley.

"How do you think your life would have turned out if you had not met him?" asked Newschannel 9's Jessica Harthorn. "I'd probably be dead or in jail somewhere," said Bradley.

Datras says Dr. Vant has become not only his mentor through the years, but also a father-figure.

"How do you think he'll react?" asked Harthorn. "I think he'll be surprised. He might share a tear or two, but he'll love it!" replied Bradley.

"So are you ready to pay it forward?" asked Harthorn. "Yes Ma'am," said Bradley.

We handed over $500 dollars cash and followed Datras to the McMinn County Center for Educational Excellence where Dr. Vant was told he needed to be for a meeting.

"Alright, bye…What is this?" asked Rev. Dr. Vant Hardaway as he hung up the phone.

"On behalf of Newschannel 9," said Bradley.

"Ha, ha, you've got to be kidding!" said Rev. Dr. Hardaway.

"And the McMahan Law Firm, I'd like to pay it forward to you. You mean the world to me. I love you so much," said Bradley.

"Are you kidding?" said Rev. Dr. Hardaway.

Dr. Vant then took Datras outside his office, because he wanted to use his special moment to teach him to always work hard.

"Try to give back, that's what life is all about," said Rev. Dr. Hardaway.

In the parking lot, Dr. Vant pointed out where a grocery Store once stood in 1966, the location of his very first job. It's ironic he says, how life can come full circle.

"I'm so proud of you," said Rev. Dr. Hardaway.

Datras says Dr. Vant has helped keep his life on track. He got good grades in high school, and this fall he'll be attending Eastern Tennessee State University for nursing.

Chances are you know at least one person like Dr. Hardaway in your life.

So why don't you nominate them for our Pay It Forward Segment.

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