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Dickey earns title of both dad and real life hero

Local father of two (pictured here with his wife, Debra, and two sons, Max and Macon) is a hero to more than a few kids in both Lynchburg and beyond. {Photo Provided}

Webster’s dictionary defines hero as a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities and according to our sources, at least one local dad fits this description to a tee. He’s a hero at home, in the classroom, and even while on vacation.

Many people know Lynchburg native and father of two, Dusty Dickey, as different things. To some, he is a dedicated fourth grader science teacher who brings adventure into his classroom every day. To others, he’s the life-of-the-party DJ who often donates his time and disc jockeying skills to non-profit events like Halloween in the Hollow. To others, he’s the aw shucks seasonal distillery tour guide with a lineage that connects directly to Jack himself. But on a recent family vacation to Broken Bow, Oklahoma with wife, Debra, and two sons, Macon and Max, Dusty earned the title of modern days hero.

“We were floating on the Mountain Fork River,” Debra says. “Just enjoying a family day on the river when we suddenly heard kids screaming in the distance.”

Debra says at first, all four of them assumed the kids were just enjoying their day on the water too … then they noticed the look of panicked fear in their eyes and Dusty jumped into action.

“He didn’t hesitate,” Debra says. “He jumped right in. When he reached the boys, they clung to him for safety.”

With a little patience and encouragement from the banks by Debra, Macon, and Max, the trio slowly edged down river until they found a safe spot to climb back onto the shore. Apparently, the boys had been playing up stream when the current dragged them under the bridge and towards the rapids. Luckily, they were both wearing life jackets.

“I was so proud of my family for jumping in a helping,” Debra said. “Dusty truly saved those boys.”

Hero in the classroom as well

Though Dusty can spin a good yarn on a Jack Daniel’s tour, the river rescue isn’t a story he’d likely repeat. Known as an outgoing, big personality, he’s not much for tooting his own horn. That’s okay, there are lots of others willing to do that for him, like Holly Burton, the mother of a special needs student at Lynchburg Elementary.

Her son, Avery, who suffered a stroke In utero, learns in the special needs classroom of Debra at LES. Dusty makes a point to show Avery at every opportunity that he is “differently-abled” not disabled, Holly says.

“When he made soup in the classroom, he let Avery pour the veggies from the can. When they planted peas, he let Avery get his hands dirty and feel like all the rest of the kids and have fun,” Burton says. “He’s made a difference in Avery’s school life and there’s not a day Mr. Dusty isn’t mentioned at our house.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced local schools to shutter, not only did Dickey post weekly science experiments on his Facebook page, he also called Avery everyday to check in on him.

When we asked Dusty’s sons recently to describe their dad … they both used the term hero. Macon, who is a rising fourth grader, really hopes he gets to be in his dad’s home room this upcoming year.

“Not because he’s my dad,” he says. “But because science is my favorite subject and I’d like to start my day with him.”

Max’s favorite thing about his dad is the fact that he’s always planning adventures and playing with them just like a big kid.

“He plays corn hole with us and we go fishing. When my favorite song comes on, he always turns it up loud so we can sing … stuff like that.” •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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