Peru High School student honored by United Way | News

PERU — Lucas Slagel figured the car show fundraiser he organized in October for Peru resident Gary Loe would be forgotten about in a matter of weeks.

That was before hundreds of people turned out Oct. 15, 2022, to the Tiger North Athletic Complex with their best cars. There were so many people that parking spilled over into two nearby businesses.

It was before Slagel and his mom presented Loe, who has bone cancer, a check for $18,000.

More than two months later, the Peru High School student’s act of kindness is still fresh in the community’s collective memory.

Slagel was honored with the Community of Character Pillar Award by the United Way of Miami County last month.

The annual award goes to a person who honorably serves their community. The United Way fields nominations from the community for the award and a committee reviews the nominees.

Slagel is the first student to receive the award, according to Debi Wallick, executive director for the United Way.

“This is the very first time,” she said. “It’s always been an adult.”

Slagel used his love of cars — he said in a text to the Tribune he is buying his first Ford Mustang GT — and combined it with making a positive impact.

“I knew I wanted to help Gary, and I knew I have a way of getting a lot of car enthusiasts in one area,” Slagel said. “I mixed helping Gary right in the middle, and it just all worked out perfectly.”

Loe, 73, is someone Slagel has known his entire life. Same goes for his mom and aunt.

He’s the type of community figure just about everyone knows.

“I know he’s helped everybody in the community forever,” Slagel said in October. “I wanted to help the most selfless person.”

Slagel was still cashing checks days after the car show ended. The total amount raised surprised both him and Loe.

Loe said he cried the night Slagel and his mom presented him with the check.

“Lucas is one of the greatest young men you’ll find,” Loe told the Tribune.

The selection committee at the United Way thought so too.

“It was such a nice thing that someone so young is so philanthropic and wanted to give back to the community,” Wallick said. “He brought so many people in the community together that didn’t know each other.”

Prior to the car show for Loe, Slagel organized one for a local police officer’s daughter.

“I just look for him to be a phenomenal person in the community,” Wallick said. “We wanted to award him for his efforts.”


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