Coast teen’s volunteer work suits him just fine

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 19, 2005

Finding something to feel good about amid the aftermath ofHurricane Katrina is the mission of an Ocean Springs youth.

Keegan Westover, 15, is spending a couple of weeks in Brookhavenwhile his parents, Jackie and Tyrone Westover, are picking up thepieces back home.

Westover is currently staying in the home of Teddy and JenniferJackson, of Brookhaven. He came to know the Jacksons through theirdaughter, Kelsey Ann. The teens are both members of the state’s RATPack youth anti-tobacco program and also perform together in theClinton-based Focus show choir, a preteen and teen performinggroup.

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Westover has been making himself at home at the Jacksons’ and atBrookhaven Academy, where he’s been attending classes”unofficially” while he’s in town. He has also been visiting otherstorm evacuees still living in six Brookhaven and Lincoln Countyshelters.

Stepping up to make others feel good while helping keep his ownspirits up, Westover agreed to take on the role of Quacky the Duck,the mascot for the Ole Brook Festival’s Duck Derby. Proceeds fromthis year’s derby – a rubber duck race –¬†will go to HurricaneKatrina relief efforts. Proceeds in years past have gone tobuilding and renovation projects at King’s Daughters Medical Centerin Brookhaven, sponsor of the derby.

Westover has entertained and taken treats to the kids inshelters, said Jackson, who has served as Quacky’s handler for theweek.

Jackson said they have stopped at all of the area shelters,where Quacky is a big hit, especially with the young girlsthere.

“His outgoing personality makes him a perfect fit for Quacky,”Jackson of Westover.

As evidence of his charismatic personality, Westover has hadmany local teenage girls flocking to him this week and has broughtnote after note from them home from school, Jackson said.

Westover said the most challenging aspect of being Quacky isfinding a spot to sit down in the large Quacky costume. Not allchairs will accommodate Quacky’s rather large duck-like posterior,he said.

The St. Martin High School sophomore said he’s enjoyed attendingclasses at Brookhaven Academy.

“Today I was a senior,” Westover said Thursday afternoon aftersitting in with the upperclassmen for the day.

Jackson said she hoped to help keep Westover in good spirits andhoped he wouldn’t dwell on the fact that his Ocean Springs home hadbeen under 6 feet of water and suffered major damage. She expectshim to be in town for another week or so.

Westover said he thought school would restart in St. Martin atthe beginning of October.

Westover’s next big adventure will be at the Ole Brook Festivalon Sept. 23-24, when he will once again don the Quacky costume andentertain guests. Jackson said they may even lure Westover into thedunking booth.

Westover wants to help out hurricane victims in other ways too,and as a Focus member will get that opportunity next month.

The show choir has planned a special show for Oct. 9 at HindsCommunity College in Raymond to benefit hurricane reliefefforts.