When Landon Trost graduated from BYU last summer, he had a small window of opportunity to catch his breath before heading to New Orleans in the fall where he had been accepted to attend medical school at Tulane University.
During this time the 24-year-old member of the Lindon 15th Ward, Lindon Utah Stake, felt he should spend two hours a day giving therapy to Dylan, a 3-year-old boy with developmental disabilities located in another city about 15 miles away. He managed also to teach piano and mathematics to the boy's two sisters.
"I've always loved giving service more than doing anything else," he said.
Helping Dylan, as well as helping many others, distinguished this returned missionary, who served in the Belgium Brussels Mission, as one of 175 national recipients of the Congressional Award Gold Medal. This is the highest medal of honor given by the U.S. Congress to young people of outstanding accomplishments.
Eligibility for the award requires 400 hours of volunteer service, 200 hours of personal development, 200 hours of physical fitness training and a four-night expedition-exploration activity.
Landon completed the physical fitness requirement by training 17 hours a week as a member of the Brigham Young University diving team.
"He had the clearest mind of anybody I've ever met in my life," said Keith Russell, his BYU diving coach and adult adviser in the award program. Landon's determination to train and accomplish goals helped him win a number of championships in the two years he competed on the team, the coach said, according to an article in the Provo Daily Herald.
Dylan's mother heaped praise on Landon for helping her son learn basic skills such as making eye contact and learning to understand gestures, as well as walking and talking. Dylan, born 4 pounds, 14 inches, suffers from premature birth complications, she said.
If Landon hadn't helped with the therapy, she believes she would have worked extra hours to make additional money for the therapy. A mother of four, she's grateful she could spend her time with her family.
Now at Tulane as a first year medical student, Landon continues to help others by volunteering as a student doctor at a homeless clinic in New Orleans. — Shaun Stahle