CLEVELAND — Dwayne Thompkins has been the Custodial Maintenance Supervisor here at WKYC Studios for more than five years -- and every day I can count on Dwayne to brighten my morning.
He is always good for a laugh or interesting conversation. Truly, his positivity is contagious.
"Every day I'm happy to come in here and see you guys," Dwayne told me. "That's what's good for me. I think that's what keeps me really happy. And my wife knows it as well, she always says, hey, you're happy to go to work aren't you? Every morning you're up at 5 o'clock getting ready to go to work. And I say, well, I gotta go take care of my people...because you guys take care of me."
I wanted to honor Dwayne, but he didn’t know it. So we arranged a setup. He thought he was helping photojournalist Tim Coffey test a microphone in order to get him on camera at the station. But that was really just an excuse to surprise Dwayne with our thanks.
I let Dwayne know that I chose him as someone who has made my day better and brighter this last year as part of our "GO! for the Gold" series. Just like the Olympics, we wanted to thank some deserving people in our lives with gold medal recognition.
Dwayne and I like to joke around, but this honor is no joke. Dwayne was tasked with a very serious job during the pandemic -- helping to keep me and only a handful of co-workers allowed in the building during the COVID-19 lockdown safe.
"I felt that I needed to keep you guys safe, rather than me," Dwayne recalled of his commitment to the job. "I felt that you guys were my top priority, and it worked out for the good."
Sadly, for Dwayne that wasn’t the case outside the building, as he tragically lost his own mother during the pandemic.
"And it was really hard for me, you know," Dwayne said. "But through all that, I had to be strong for my family."
Dwayne still brought his smile inside our building and told me being at work helped him cope with his loss.
Dwayne inspires me as a father, grandfather, a business owner and a dedicated member of our WKYC family. On the day we filmed our surprise, he was wearing a shirt that read "Living the Dream," which reflects the attitude he brings daily.
Dwayne is someone who has touched so many of us and deserves not only recognition, but also our thanks.