Rilan Betts

"A park is only as strong as the people that surround the park."

Sometimes people forget about the important relationships parks play within a community. Rilan Betts (left) is one of the youngest park supervisors in Chicago, and he is on mission to add some flavor within the traditional park model starting with the historical Jackie Robinson Park. But where does this drive come from? It boils down to one key word: help.

"I really appreciate helping people out. I think about where I would be if I never received help from others. It's one thing to get help from family but from a complete stranger to help me is something that always stood out to me. So I always knew I wanted a professional job helping people." Betts said.

Keeping the cycle of help alive is the perfect job for Betts, and using that energy to improve parks is the objective. What some people don't understand is it's more than simply managing the playgrounds, baseball diamonds, and soccer fields - it's managing a group of people that sticks together.

"For parks to improve it takes the community. Things can't get better unless you show consistently that you want things to improve," Betts said.

Part of Betts' work, as playground supervisor at Jackie Robinson Park, was maintaining the home grounds for the subsequent U.S. champion Jackie Robinson West All Stars Little League team. The young men, all of whom are African American, earned a berth to the Little League World Series championship game earlier this year. The beloved team's run was watched by millions, a remarkable run that gave Betts tremendous pride.

"It was amazing to witness and be a part of Jackie Robinson West's historical events that took place. With all the things that were going on in the world at that time and to witness Jackie Robinson West winning these games not only for themselves, but winning for the United States, it was simply amazing," Betts said. 

Everyone wants to be someone. It takes hard work, dedication, and consistency. So we leave Rilan Betts with one simple question. On a stage in front of a billion people, what would you say?

"Smile every single day, and live life with a positive purpose."