Proctor used his $10,000 Gatorade Play it Forward Spotlight Grant money to support the nonprofit, which helps children in foster care.
Proctor used his $10,000 Gatorade Play it Forward Spotlight Grant money to support the nonprofit, which helps children in foster care.

Northwest School senior Tibebu “Tibs” Proctor has gone to great lengths to make a life here in Seattle. So, when the high school athlete was named Washington’s Boys Cross Country Player of the Year, he used $10,000 in grant money from Gatorade to support a nonprofit similar to the one that helped him in Ethiopia.

Proctor qualified last year for Gatorade State Player of the Year for Boys Cross Country, but didn’t make the cut.

“I was still learning, and my nutrition was not that good,” Proctor said, adding he took his training more seriously this past season. “I know what I did right last year, and I know what I did wrong.”

Proctor won the Class 1A boys state cross-country race last November, minus his brother, Tamire, who ran with him the year before but then decided to focus on soccer.

“This year I got it,” Proctor said, “and it was really an honor to represent the state of Washington as a Spotlight Grant recipient.”

Proctor was granted $10,000 to give to the nonprofit of his choosing.

“It’s a lot of money, and I donated that to Treehouse for Kids because I felt like the organization connects to my life,” Proctor said. “I was originally from Ethiopia, and a similar organization (Africa-America Institute) helped me get an education and get a family and be where I am today. Without that organization I would not even be in cross country or in the U.S.”

Treehouse for Kids is a nonprofit that provides academic and other program for children in foster care, but does not find homes for children.

Proctor went to Treehouse for Kids on Thursday, March 23, for a tour.

“It was really cool and amazing,” he said. “I really liked that.”

The high school senior said he wants to keep supporting Treehouse for Kids when he goes to the University of Washington to run and study biology — he wants to be a dentist.

Proctor doesn’t want children to grow up too fast, he said, not like his life had been working farmland before he left Ethiopia at age 10.

“It was all I knew. I didn’t know that kids went to school or anything,” Proctor said. “It wasn’t something that you could imagine. You just go to work, and that’s it.”

He went back to Ethiopia with his mother and brother last spring.

“It was a whole new experience,” he said, “because a lot of things have changed from what I could remember.”

Proctor said he credits his teammates, coaches and family for his accomplishments.

“Without them, it wouldn’t even be possible,” he said.