KNOXVILLE, Tenn — When Taylor Lawhorn and B.K. Hardin walk the halls of South Doyle High School in uniform, others take notice.
Taylor is a senior in ROTC. Hardin is a Knoxville police officer.
They first met nearly four years ago when Taylor was a freshman.
"I saw him in his uniform, and I just walked up and started talking to him, and then we just started to build a relationship there," Taylor said.
"I think it was sort of just meant to be from the start," Hardin said.
The two were matched through Big Brothers of Big Sisters of East Tennessee's Mentor 2.0 program where volunteers and students spend time together at school.
More than 160 high schoolers are currently on the waiting list for site-based mentors.
"He always has a joke. if you're ever in bad spirits when you're around him that's one in a million. He'll bring you up no matter what, and he can make friends with anybody," Taylor said.
Hardin has watched Taylor grow into a young man.
"Servant's heart I think is the best way to describe it. He's very involved in his church, works with ROTC in the schools. Anytime you need somebody to step up he's already there," Hardin said.
They have been through a lot together.
Hardin was hit in the head last November with what police said was either a tire iron or a hammer while conducting game day traffic after a UT football game.
The attack fractured his skull. Police still have not found the suspect.
"Yeah, it was pretty scary," Taylor said. "I was kind of shocked. I was like, wait, what? It didn't really process for a while until he texted me," Taylor said.
"I've been hurt before, never to this extent, but you put your uniform on the next day and go back at it. That's what you sign up for," Hardin said.
It is a lesson Hardin wants to teach Taylor as he prepares to enter the Marine Corps.
"It's someone to hold you to where you need to be. It makes your standards set higher because they see more in you than what you see in yourself, and they help you stay on track," Taylor said.
Hardin went back to work just seven weeks after he was attacked, but this time as a school resource officer at Vine Middle School--a homecoming for the former high school teacher.
"I think I'm a professional student now it seems like," Hardin smiled.
And he's hoping to impact more students like Taylor.
"Just seeing the growth in these kids and the change in them from their freshman year all the way to their senior year, it's fun to watch. It's just exciting, and it gives you hope," Hardin said.
Click here to become a mentor.
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