The Palmetto Council, Boy Scouts of America recognized Eagle Scout and Senator Wes Hayes as the 2015 Council Distinguished Citizen during their annual recognition dinner event on March 26th. The keynote speech was given by Five-Time NFL MVP quarterback Peyton Manning. The event was held in partnership with Winthrop University and welcomed over 500 donors, civic leaders, and business professionals from across the Upstate of South Carolina.

Eagle Scout and Senator Robert Wesley (Wes) Hayes, Jr. was born in 1952, in Rock Hill, South Carolina, to Robert W. Hayes and Wilbur Kirkland Hayes. He graduated from Rock Hill High School in 1971, after which he attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. While at West Point, Wes was elected President of his Class and served as a Battalion Commander. Upon leaving active service, he became a member of the South Carolina Army National Guard from 1980-2005, in which he held the rank of Colonel.

Soon after he left Fort Bragg, Wes enrolled at the University of South Carolina School of Law. There he was elected President of the Student Bar Association, served on the South Carolina Law Review, and was a member of the Order of the Coif. After graduating in 1983, he practiced at Harrelson, Hayes and Guyton, later founding his own firm in Rock Hill. 

Wes is actively involved in the Rock Hill community. Currently, he serves on the boards of the York County Chapter of the American Red Cross, Westminster Towers, South Carolina Bank and Trust of the Piedmont, and Guardian Fidelity Mortgage Corporation. He has long attended Westminster Presbyterian Church. One of Wes's keen interests has been involvement with the Boy Scouts of America, an organization that played a key role in his own youth. He was Chairman of the York District Boy Scouts of America from 1985-1991 and Council President for the Palmetto Council, Boy Scouts of America 2010-2012. In addition, he served as Chairman of the State Government United Way Campaign for the 2011-2012 Campaign and Chairman of the Rock Hill United Way Campaign in 1992. Wes belongs to a number of other organizations, including the American Legion, Kiwanis, Elks, Gideons, Christian Legal Society, National Lawyers Association, state and county Bar Associations, and Republican Party. Since 1991, he has represented District 15 in the South Carolina Senate, after serving in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1985-1991. Wes currently chairs the Banking and Insurance Committee. Previously, he chaired the Senate Ethics Committee for a number of years.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, the league’s only five-time MVP and a 14-time Pro Bowl selection, has earned his place among the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks as the active leader in nearly every statistical passing category. Since entering the NFL in 1998, joining the Indianapolis Colts as the first overall draft pick, Manning has thrown the most touchdown passes (530) in league history in addition to ranking second in wins by a quarterback (179), completions (5,927) and passing yards (69,691).

Manning’s 14 postseason berths rank first among quarterbacks in league annals along with his 91 career 300-yard passing games. Named a first-team All-Pro selection by the Associated Press on seven occasions, Manning was named No. 1 on his native Louisiana's list of all-time greatest athletes by The Times-Picayune.

In each of his three seasons with Denver, Manning has led the Broncos to an AFC West Division title and a first-round postseason bye. During that time, he ranks first in the NFL in regular-season wins (38), passing touchdowns (131) and completions percentage (67.7).

Presenting partners for the event were Williams and Fudge and Founders Federal Credit Union. The dinner co-chairs for 2015 were Mr. Gary Williams (Chairman of the Board, Williams and Fudge) and Mr. Bruce Brumfield (President and CEO, Founders Federal Credit Union).

The event raised nearly $400,000 to support character development and outdoor education programs delivered by the Palmetto Council.

The Palmetto Council is a United Way partner agency delivering character education programs to more than 4,500 families in Spartanburg, Cherokee, Union, York, Lancaster, and Chester Counties.