Nabbing one of six Take Stock In Children Leaders 4 Life Fellowships in the state of Florida, Flagler Palm Coast High School senior Dylan Long marked his Tuesday being recognized by friends and family in a ceremony at the Flagler Auditorium.

By the aspiring neuroscientist’s side was his mother Amy Long, Take Stock In Children mentor Peter Sutcliffe, and some of his biggest cheerleaders from the Flagler County Education Foundation including executive director Joe Rizzo, assistant director Becca Bower, Christy Butler and Shelley Wheeler.

“I’m still shaking. My heart is very full,” said mom Amy Long after the ceremony, noting how the Take Stock In Children program has impacted her son over the past three and a half years.

A candid moment as mom Amy Long, winner Dylan Long and Student Services Coordinator Christy Butler share a laugh after the ceremony.

“It’s just been so fantastic, and great having a male role model in his life,” she said. “I really appreciated that aspect of it and the different kinds of field trips he’s gone on. And the volunteer hours they’ve helped him with have just been phenomenal.”

Dylan has been a member of the Take Stock In Children mentoring program since entering high school, paired with his mentor Peter Sutcliffe. It’s a first for both, and over the years they have grown close, discussing technology, planning and preparing Dylan for college, while encouraging him to aim for the stars.

“He’s always been a person I can turn to if I need anything, he’s always there for me,” shared Dylan of his mentor.

The connectivity between the two grew even closer during the pandemic where they met more frequently virtually, and even Peter’s wife Priscilla found her attachment to the young scholar growing.

On Tuesday she spilled the two’s biggest secret: Peter and Dylan share the same birthday – November 20th.

Dylan Long and mentor Peter Sutcliffe share a moment after the ceremony on Tuesday, December 7, 2021.

“It’s interesting because I don’t think I would have been a part of this except because of COVID they went virtual and as we all know when someone’s on the computer, it resonates through the area. I heard a lot of discussions and I think what I could add is, Peter wanted to him to stretch. He wanted him to rub elbows with some of the smartest people in the country because he recognized how bright he was and how motivated he was,” she said.

Standing close by, Peter beamed as his mentee soaked up the moment.

“This is fabulous, and he’s earned it,” he said proudly. “He’s been a focused student since middle school. He wanted to be a computer engineer from the first time I met him, the first day.”

As a member of the Take Stock In Children program, all four years of Dylan’s college at a Florida state school are paid for, and as a Leaders 4 Life Fellow, he receives $40,000 to help with needs while in school to ensure he can devote his full attention to his studies in addition to receiving leadership training.

On Dylan’s wish list is Georgia Tech, University of Florida, M.I.T. and Carnegie Mellon University.

“I expect to major in computer science because I have a handful of interests with that. I feel like pretty much any subfield you want to get into, computer science can apply, even right now, but especially in the future. Right now I’m interested in brain-machine interfaces so very advanced stuff that’s not really a thing right now but will be in the future,” he said.

His fascination with computer and neuro science has earned Dylan a myriad of fans, among them Palm Coast City Councilman Nick Klufas and Flagler County Education Foundation student services coordinator Christy Butler.

“Quite simply, Dylan is impressive,” said Klufas. “Dylan and I share a common bond through the electrification of vehicles. The amount of knowledge and the depth of understanding that Dylan has for technology is outrageous. His ability to educate others in a succinct manner that allows knowledge to transcend without friction is why I’m confident Dylan will emerge amongst his peers, as a leader.”

“I have watched him grow up the last four years in this program, and I knew he was something special, as with all of our kids,” said Butler. “Everything he’s involved in, he’s involved 110% to the end, and he is really incredible.”

Donors Peter and Sue Freytag have taken a special interest in the Take Stock In Children program, helping grow the number of children impacted by the opportunity to excel personally and educationally over the past decade.

“The Take Stock In Children program is very important to my wife since she was a former teacher back in Illinois. She taught 5th grade for many years and we think it’s a great opportunity for children who have lots of success but don’t have enough money to go to college that this program is adapted perfectly for them,” said Peter Freytag.

Flagler County Education Foundation Director Joe Rizzo helps connect donors like the Freytags to two or three students each year.

“It started with them buying one scholarship,” said Rizzo. “We sat down with Peter and Sue three years ago and we said we’d like to get to 100 students in four years. At the time we were right around 30.”

Working collaboratively the Flagler County Education Foundation exceeded their goal, and have sights set on helping even more children achieve their dreams.

“We were able to do it a year earlier than we planned and now we’re trying to get to 200,” said Rizzo.  “It’s pretty phenomenal the support that we get and the impact that it has on these students.”

To find out more about the Flagler County Education Foundation, visit here.

Priceless moments.