For a man who generally knows just about everything going on in Montgomery County, Sheriff Derrick Cunningham had a fast one pulled on him.
“Yeah, they got me this time,” he said. “I usually hear things about what people are going to do.”
“They” were the YMCA of Greater Montgomery members who named him YMCA Man of the Year in December.
The 2007 graduate has served as Montgomery County Sheriff since 2015 and has supported a variety of community programs aimed at improving opportunities for young people.
“It means a lot being named YMCA Man of the Year,” he said. “It means a lot because it’s voted on by the youth – and it’s important when the youth see adults going above and beyond to help them. I know the youth are 50 percent of our population, but 100 percent of our future and it behooves us to reach out to them and do something for them now.
“If we don’t, we’ll lose them and lose our future. If we don’t prepare them now, we won’t have a future,” he said.
Cunningham and his staff host the Sheriff’s Camp at YMCA Camp Chandler and provide free SAT and ACT preparation tests at libraries and YMCAs in the area.
“We’ve been pushing them hard on the test preparation and encourage them to take it as many times as they can so that they’re comfortable taking the real test and they can make the scores they need to succeed,” Cunningham said. “You’d be shocked at the number of kids who come in and take the tests and then come do them again and again.”
Now the two-term president of the Alabama Sheriff’s Association, Cunningham is the 69th YMCA Man of the Year, and the program is organized by the teens of the Montgomery Student YMCAs.
In 2018, TROY Trustee retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Ed Crowell received the honor.