Gridiron star at Shawnee Mission South serving as mentor for peer with special needs

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- The sport of football is rooted in leadership, and one gridiron giant at Shawnee Mission South is learning to lead by showing compassion for a classmate.

It isn't hard to find winners around Shawnee Mission South High School. A few more will be crowned during the school`s annual Mister Ameri-Can Pageant where students from the school's Personal Life Skills classes display what they've learned.

Raiders running back Nolan Timmesch is part of the show, serving as a mentor for fellow senior Cole Fornal, who lives with a genetic disorder called Fragile X.

"1, 2, 3, snap!" Timmesch chanted, while leading Fornal through an impromptu dance rehearsal Thursday.

The Mister Ameri-Can Pageant is sort of a tongue-in-cheek beauty pageant, during which the school's male students put on small performances. Timmesch is helping Fornal arrange his talent exhibition, which will include some song and dance. The two guys are still ironing out those details.

"I love it. It's a rewarding thing. It makes me feel good, like I'm doing something good and helpful, if not to one person, then multiple," Timmesch said.

Various clubs and teams from around the school nominate representatives for the pageant. The Personal Life Skills class nominated Fornal.

Nolan Timmesch and Cole Fornal

Nobody had to push Timmesch to get involved. He volunteered his time, lending a friendly hand to a student with special needs.

Throughout this process, Thimmesch said he`s learning leadership skills and how to care for others. Those are qualities that will endure long after football fades.

"I am very happy to be in Mister Ameri-Can pageant this year," Fornal told FOX4. "I love being involved with my friends and my family."

"It's fun. It's a lively thing," Timmesch grinned. "I think everyone at this school, not just sports -- they're good people. I love the community. It's fun."

The Mister Ameri-Can Pageant will help collect canned goods that will, in turn, be donated to the Johnson County Christmas Fund.

The show will be held Wednesday night at Shawnee Mission South High School. Then Timmesch and the Raiders football team (8-2) will continue their playoff run against Blue Valley North (6-3) on Friday night.