November 23, 2004
Chris Henningsen of Scottsdale isn’t your typical college student. He holds a full-time job, attends classes and sprinkles in several volunteer hours a week for good measure.
"Most kids my age are out partying and drinking every Friday night," the 23-year-old Henningsen said. "I get more of a thrill from life from helping people out."
Henningsen spends several hours each week with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Scottsdale, and that is just one reason he was nominated for the Arizona Jaycees’ Pat Tillman Award Oct. 20 during the state convention.
He and five other Arizona nominees will travel in the spring to Washington, D.C., where the Tillman Award winner will be announced. The six Arizonans also are eligible for the United States Jaycees "10 Outstanding Americans" awards.
"For someone of his age juggling work, school and helping out the community is unreal," said Pat Oliver, president of the Scottsdale Jaycees, who nominated Henningsen for the state honor. "He is always thinking about raising money for the community and helping out kids one way or another."
The award is named for the former Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State University football star and honors student, who was killed earlier this year in combat in Afghanistan. The award was created earlier this year to honor community volunteers, said state Jaycees president Chris Holden.
"There is no better honor than receiving something named after Pat Tillman," he said. "What he did here at ASU, for the Cardinals and serving our country should never be forgotten."
Henningsen, a 2000 graduate of Chaparral High School, said his philosophy in life stems from growing up with the Boys and Girls Club.
"If I could find a job that was 60 hours a week volunteering I would do it," he said. "I don’t care if I get paid or not. My main goal is to help people."
He began going to the Boys and Girls Club when he was 6 years old and worked through the system, eventually becoming president of the Torch Club.
"We don’t get too many young adults anymore of his caliber and enthusiasm for helping out the community," Oliver said. "For a kid that is 23, he has everything in order. He doesn’t seem like a 23-year-old. He acts a lot older than he actually is."
Henningsen works at Home Depot and is attending Scottsdale Community College and studying management marketing.
Eventually he would like to earn a bachelor’s of science degree in hotel hospitality.
"I’m not interested in going into the hotel business. I’m just interested in the service industry," he said. "I enjoy making customers happy."