Our youth, our future: Dexton McKinney

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WDTV) - While some teenagers may collect records, dolls, or action figures, 17-year-old Dexton McKinney collects aluminum tabs.

Dexton with his mentor and friend, Hoagy Carmichael.

"A lady I know suggesting collecting them so I just started saving them for something to do," he said.

However, the high-schooler started the collection, for a good cause—to donate to the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown.

"It helps pay for hospital bills and things like that so the families of sick kids don't have to suffer."

As his collection grew to several dozen gallons, that's when he decided to partner up with an unlikely ally—biker Hoagy Carmichael.

"The boy is amazing; he just makes me want to go out and get more [tabs]," Carmichael said.

In 2004, Carmichael started a motorcycle charity called "Hoagy's Heroes" that raises money for various causes, including collecting tabs for RMHC.

"I started a thing in 2011 called 'Tabs for Toddlers', and then Dexton's thing is 'Tabs for Tomorrow'," Carmichael explained.

After joining forces with Dexton and collecting tabs for two years, the Heroes rode their bikes over 200 miles to bring the tabs to the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown.

"It was awesome to ride with them today," Dexton said.

Combined, Dexton and the Heroes donated over 300 gallons of aluminum tabs, 50 of which Dexton collected on his own. At 42 cents a pound, the group hopes that they've raised nearly a thousand dollars for the charity.

"We recycle them and use them to help operate our non-profit," said executive director of the Morgantown RMHC, Eleanor Riegel.

Dexton's leadership is an inspiration to his peers as well as adults.

"We are blessed to have him as one of our volunteers," said Riegel.

Carmichael said, "To have a young man at 17, do what he does, is just an inspiration. He spends 6-20 hours a week working on this; you won't find a lot of kids who will do that."