Liberty Student Wins NRA Youth Leadership Award

Liberty University student Riley Hayes won the Youth Leadership Award from the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action after months of determined work and was recognized Jan. 13, 2018 in Washington, D.C. when he accepted his award.

Hayes worked independently for five months before putting together a team of six members that went door-to-door on weekends, asking residents questions as well as making phone calls throughout the week to aid in election help.

In 2016, Hayes was approached by NRA Campaign Field Representative Patrick DeStefano. DeStefano saw Hayes and his team’s hard work and, unbeknown to Hayes, entered him in for the NRA-ILA Youth Leadership Award.

Hayes said DeStefano submitted his name to be chosen, and DeStefano, along with his boss, were supporting him from the NRA headquarters.

When Hayes moved from small town Ticonderoga in upstate New York down to Virginia to begin his education at Liberty University, he joined the campus club Students at Liberty for Gun Rights.

Through the club, he recruited team members Hannah Lee, Jaden Willis, Jesse Brower, John Cook, Josh Fickus and Tevin Allen. These members were an integral part in Hayes’ nomination for the NRA-ILA Youth Leadership Award.

“From the pool of nominees we had at the college age level, and, considering what was going on in 2016, we felt that Riley … was the most deserving to actually receive the award,” Glen Caroline, the director of NRA-ILA Grassroots Program and Campaign Field Operations division, said.

In Washington, D.C.,  Hayes was awarded with a frame displaying the Bill of Rights and a letter signed by Chief Lobbyist and Principle Political Strategist for the NRA-ILA, Chris Cox.

“I didn’t expect anything,” Hayes said. “I was happy to do it for free.”

As a leader and representative of the second amendment rights, Hayes is hoping to pursue a position as an officer in the Marine Corps.

“After that, I’d like to do law enforcement in a small town,” Hayes said.

Hayes is currently majoring in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in criminal justice, military history and strategic intelligence.

“If Riley continues to be interested in politics and interested in supporting the NRA, you know at least from an NRA perspective, I can certainly see us working with him well beyond college to educate and empower gun owners to take action,” Caroline said.

The NRA’s goal is to educate people across the country regarding firearms and their second amendment rights. Hayes is one of many leaders around the country who are doing this.

“Riley is really a good leader who did a lot for our cause,” Caroline said.

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