SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -

Last fall, as former West Valley Eagle and Idaho Vandal Jace Malek was in the middle of his fight with cancer, our sports department was lucky enough to spend some time with Jace, and in that time our lives were touched. We were awed by his upbeat attitude and willingness to inspire, while facing unbelievable adversity. So, we created the Jace Malek Award for Toughness that we promised him we would continue.

Last year, during the last Friday Night Sports Extra of the season, Jace was here in studio as we honored coach Jeff Hinz of Post Falls High School. In the last year we lost both of these men and we miss them greatly. This year, we looked for another person who showed the same characteristics as Jace, and we found a very different story, but a united theme.

A few weeks ago we introduced you to East Valley's Rodrick Jackson, a young man that had dropped out of high school and, by his words, was homeless and lost. He asked for help, and his hopes were exceeded by football coach Adam Fisher and his family. He's now part of their family. Rodrick showed incredible strength by asking for help, not every man's favorite thing to do, and his openness and honesty to his story has inspired other young people that there may be a way out when you are walking down the wrong path.

As we spent time with Rodrick for our story, we discovered that the Fisher family attends the same church in the Spokane Valley that Jace and his wife Libby attended.

We would like to thank Valley Real Life for letting us interrupt their service last Thursday night to present him with the award, as that church is the connection between these two families. It was an honor to have the Malek family with us as we awarded Rodrick Jackson with the 2016 Jace Malek Award for Toughness.