When Bart Darrell delivers his keynote speech at the upcoming Live 685 MentorKids banquet, he won’t be there as a mentor or as the president of Kentucky Wesleyan College.

He will be there as a father.

Darrell lights up when he talks about his son, Michael Darrell-Hicks.

And it’s not hard to notice his son’s photos that are prominently displayed inside Darrell’s KWC office.

Darrell adopted Darrell-Hicks on April 27, 2016 — nine years after they met while Darrell was working as an attorney in Bowling Green.

“We met when he was 9 years old,” Darrell said. “…And (Michael) and I have stayed a pair since he was 9. He’s 21 now.”

Darrell said he was good friends with Darrell-Hicks’ mother and that the biological father was never in the picture, leaving a void.

That led Darrell and Darrell-Hicks to develop an almost immediate father-son bond.

“We just did school stuff together, basketball, Little League,” Darrell said. “We just stayed close.”

After Darrell-Hicks turned 18 during his senior year at South Warren High School, the adoption was approved in Daviess County by Judge Jay Wethington.

Darrell-Hicks is now a junior at Western Kentucky University and a member of the Hilltoppers’ baseball team.

Darrell-Hicks said Darrell was there in his life at the right time.

“As a kid, I saw him not only as a father figure but also as a friend as well,” Darrell-Hicks said. “Through the years, we grew closer and closer. He’s really helped me become a man. ...I feel like every kid needs to have a father or some sort of father figure in their home. My mom did a good job of raising me but Bart just enhanced my development as a person.”

Darrell plans to focus on the relationship with his son during the March 26 Live 685 Mentor Kids Kentucky Banquet presented by Independence Bank.

“I owe Michael and am so grateful to him for wanting me in his life and wanting me to be his father,” Darrell said. “My entire world changed after he entered it.”

The banquet, which acts as the organization’s largest fundraiser, will take place at 6 p.m. at His Church (formerly River City Church), 4810 Frederica St.

Berly Tillman Sullivan, MentorKids executive director, said the connection that Darrell and his son made serves as an example to her organization’s mission that’s based around Psalm 68:5 — “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”

“In an essence, (Darrell) lived 685 by coming alongside Michael the way he did,” Sullivan said.

Kyle Aud, Independence Bank’s senior vice president, said the bank believes in the MentorKids program and how it benefits the community.

“Anything that involves kids, especially disadvantaged children or single-parent households; households where maybe a grandparent is the legal guardian and they don’t have mentors in place; those are types of situations we like to support,” Aud said.

The banquet, which will be catered by Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn, is free and open to the public. However, anyone planning to attend is asked to RSVP by going to the website — mentorkidsky.org.

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer, 270-691-7299

Want to Go?

WHAT: Live 685 Mentor Kids Kentucky Banquet presented by Independence Bank

WHERE: His Church (formerly River City Church), 4810 Frederica St.

WHEN: 6 p.m. March 26

COST: Free to the public (RSVP at mentorkidsky.org)

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