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Toyota Athlete of the Week: ESM's Ian Rivers Lends a Helping Hand

ESM junior golfer Ian Rivers spent his summer with the International Justice Mission, helping families in Ghana.

Ian Rivers has loved to golf as long as he can remember.

"I started playing golf when I was six years old," Rivers reminisced. "My dad took me out to play at a course called Arrowhead. Right then I just fell in love with the game. I just took it up and started competing as I got older. I love playing for ESM. I've got a great coach.

Rivers is a leader for East Syracuse Minoa, constantly showing the way on the leader board, and for the kids in the clubhouse.

"I remember when I first joined the team, back when I was in middle school, and there was a lot of leadership that I saw out of the older kids" he said. "The kids who were in my position now. I wanted to just help this program. I care about what this team does once I leave last year. I want to be able to look back and see ESM succeeding. So, whatever I can do now to help the future, I want to do."

Back to back rounds in the 30's is certainly impressive for any high school golfer, but it pales in comparison to what he's doing off the course. Rivers traveled to Africa, putting others first, helping at an orphanage.

"My friend came up to me and asked if I wanted to go on a mission trip to Ghana, and I said, 'absolutely,'" Rivers stated. "I asked what it was about. Then we got to work with this organization called I-J-M (International Justice Mission) in Ghana. Child slavery is a big problem over there. Working side by side with them and seeing how they can go out and rescue the kids, and bring them back in with their families -- because a lot of them are sold away from slavery -- so it was incredible to see that even though they're not rich with money over there, they're rich with joy. There are always smiles on their faces."

"It really matures them quickly," Michael Ferris, ESM's head golf coach explained. "The way that they handle their teammates and encourage them, really changes once they return from these trips."

An inspiration -- remembering those in need.

Spending a summer vacation serving others this year, Rivers is a refreshing reminder of what the future could be.

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