Man with Down syndrome gives so much to so many

THORNTON - Every day, we meet new people, most we likely won't remember. However, every now and then, we run into that unexpected person; the one we'll never forget. Kevin Hopkins is that person.

Hopkins has Down syndrome and is a bagging specialist at a King Soopers in Westminster. He has been doing the same job for 20 years, and his boss, Chris Fredrick, says Hawkins hardly ever misses a day and is always in a good mood.

"He has a very unique spirit about him. He does so many things and volunteers everywhere. He's just a joy to have in the store," Fredrick said.

Hawkins has worked for the supermarket chain for so long that he has developed "regular" customers who purposefully wait in line so they can talk to Hawkins and have him bag their groceries. His co-workers say he is the type of guy you want to know because he has an ability to turn anyone's day around with his contagious spirit.

Hawkins says his father, David, inspired him and taught him how to be a man and a good employee. David Hawkins worked for King Soopers and helped his son get the job more than two decades ago.

"[My dad] told me to listen to everybody, I mean everybody. He taught me the right things," Hawkins said.

Hawkins says his dad died about 10 years ago, and ever since that day, he was determined to live a life that his father would be proud of.

"I miss him so much. I miss him all the time but I'm his legacy," Hawkins said.

A legacy that runs deep in Adams County.

Every Wednesday, on Hawkins' day off, he spends time volunteering at the Thornton Police Department alongside Officer Matt Barnes. It started more than 20 years ago. Hawkins' life coach asked Barnes if he could shadow him for a day, since becoming a police officer has always been Hawkins' dream. Barnes says one day turned into 20 years, and the two have been partners ever since.

When Hawkins gets into the police department on Wednesday morning, he makes his rounds, stopping by different departments to say hello to everyone.

"He does that every morning. People look forward to seeing Kevin. He cheers them up and brightens their day," Barnes said.

Once Hawkins has said hello to everyone, he heads back up to Barnes' office where he selects which song they'll listen to before they get to work.

"We actually have the same taste in music. He has his favorite songs that kind of pump him up, and it kind of pumps me up too," Barnes said.

Hawkins does anything he is asked to do and has never complained. He shreds important police documents and helps to lift and carry boxes. He sorts pamphlets and even goes out with Barnes when he has to respond to certain calls.

Hawkins gives of himself every day without ever asking for something in return. But what he didn't realize he was receiving in Barnes was a mentor and the father figure that he so desperately needed after his father passed away.

"Yes, he showed me the right things. Father figure, yes," Hawkins said.

Over the last two decades, Barnes and Hawkins have formed a unique bond that not only benefits Hawkins, but it is one Barnes cherishes too.

"By having this type of relationship you form a pretty close bond and I have kind of taken Kevin as a family member. It's a special relationship," Barnes said.

Barnes says Hawkins is the recipient of three presidential service awards. This means he has worked more than 4 thousand volunteer hours. Hawkins has also been recognized several times in Adams County.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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