HICO, Texas — Robin Hefner never wanted it this way. But the loss of her son in Afghanistan made her this way.
The longtime Hico resident is now on a mission of her own to make sure Shawn's sacrifice serves as an inspiration to young people.
On a Thursday morning in December, her audience is a group of high schoolers in Hico, 65 miles southwest of Fort Worth. She is using Shawn's story as a model of inspiration for the students.
"I want kind of an introvert, but Shawn changed all that," Hefner said.
U.S. Marines Lance Cpl. Shawn Hefner was killed by an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan in 2009.
A short time later, Robin Hefner started a program called Hico's Hero out of her house.
She and volunteers handcraft pins that are sent to other families who lose a young man or woman serving in the armed forces.
"Two thousand... I've sent at least 2,000," she told News 8 proudly.
But Hefner realized late last year that the message of course and resilience that the pins represent could also be shared more widely.
After receiving some training from the Travis Manion Foundation, she is now helping local Texas communities find their own "local" heroes to give younger students a source of inspiration to do good in their hometown.
Her message is simple.
"It's doing what is right all the time," Hefner said.
Cade Hitzfeld, a senior at Hico High School, said the message resonated with him.
He is working on a senior community service project. Shawn's story of selflessness — and the woman who told it — are a source of motivation.
"That she can overcome the tragedy she had to go through and help the community out, I think that is just fantastic," Hitzfeld said.
Robin Hefner will soon set out to share her story with other communities.