2019 JEFFERSON AWARDS: Davenport Yo-Yo Runner Makes Difference By Giving Food For Thought

No item describes his life better than a yoyo.

"For a good 10 or 15 years I was out on the streets just being a plague to society," said Scott Searle, who is known as the "Yo-Yo Man" because he runs while yoyoing.

Today, he is bouncing back, but right after high school, Scott struggled with alcoholism.

"I've been in comas, seizures, hospitals, jails," he explained. "I got a membership to the YMCA just so my parents would take me downtown and I would walk in the door of the YMCA and I'd walk out the back door and go to the bars."

One day though, he stayed and decided to jump on a treadmill.

"That next morning I woke up and said - 'Whoa, I’m sober,'" said Scott. "That doesn’t happen unless I’m in jail, rehab, anything like that. I need to be back at the Y again and so I went back to the Y and I did that daily, sometimes two or three times a day. It was kind of my alcoholics anonymous meeting – my program was the exercise."

"It changed my life. Running actually saved my life. In fact, running is how Food for Thought came about."

On a cold day in January 2016, Scott's run took him right by a homeless man:

"I saw this gentleman in flip flops and some khaki pants and a light jacket with frost all over his face and a bottle of vodka and I thought to myself - 'I am so blessed to be able to have come out of my addiction. What can I do today?'"

So, he cooked up a pot of chili and went to King's Harvest Ministries in Davenport, where he served the homeless from a card table set up in the parking lot. That one meal became a monthly meal where volunteers come together to feed people in need.

"It made me realize that people actually have it worse than I do," said Mary Sweetland, who decided to nominate Scott for the Jefferson Awards, a foundation that celebrates public service and the people in our communities who are changing lives. "That there are people out there who are really struggling and he makes such an impact on so many people and so many people who come through the lines every month - just to see Scott's smile and just to tell him thank you because without them they wouldn't have that meal."

What's more - Scott runs to where the people are to tell them about the meal, since many don't have access to the internet or social media. He is a running advertisement as he tapes informational fliers on the doors of shelters, bus stations, and libraries. And he does it all with a yoyo in his hand.

"The yo-yo a lot is for me, but it's kind of a lot more for other people," explained Scott.

It causes people to look twice and that's exactly what Scott wants and needs to help the people who are normally ignored and to help keep him accountable.

"You just never know when you're going to be in that situation because it doesn't discriminate."

Life is full of ups and down, but Scott is now 10 years sober and on a road to redemption. "Give For Good" is a slogan of the Jefferson Awards Foundation and Scott, now a 2019 Jefferson Awards Nominee, is a result of how one person can make a difference.

"People say rock bottom is this or that well no - rock bottom is when you're six feet under in a grave. because you can always change and you can always do better," concluded Scott.

To learn more about Food For Thought, click here.

To learn more about the Jefferson Awards Foundation, click here.

Every Tuesday in January and February, WQAD News 8 is introducing you to our 2019 Jefferson Awards Nominees. Then, in April, we will announce our Jefferson Awards Finalist. That person gets to attend the National Jefferson Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. this June and meet other Jefferson Awards Finalists from across the country.

The Jefferson Awards are sponsored locally by Genesis Health System and Budget Blinds.

To see who was nominated in all four previous seasons of the Jefferson Awards on WQAD News 8, click here.

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