FIRST Inspires Stories: Paying it forward with Gracious Professionalism

This week brings us to the pinnacle of the FIRST Robotics season in the Kansas City region as 60-plus high school-level FIRST Robotics Competition teams take the field for the regional championships at Metropolitan Community College-Business & Technology campus.

As we look forward to the excitement of competition, we’re sharing stories that have emerged at all levels of FIRST programs this season.

Those involved with FIRST know that one of the taglines is “More than robots,” and this story from the FIRST LEGO League (for grades 4-8) illustrates why.


Through the FIRST’s Core Values, participants learn that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork. The FIRST core values:

  • We are a team.
  • We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
  • We know our coaches and mentors don’t have all the answers; we learn together.
  • We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
  • What we discover is more important than what we win.
  • We share our experiences with others.
  • We display Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in everything we do.
  • We have FUN!

After participating on a team that advanced to the world championships last year, one student was so moved by his experiences that he chose to pay his good fortune forward. The student, who wishes to remain anonymous, donated $500 he earned by mowing lawns and serving as a youth referee as a gift in honor of his team, EVOLVE. 

As a result, the top two teams advancing from the 2017 Kansas City FIRST LEGO League Championships (shown above) will receive $250 each to help cover expenses. 

“Maybe it will inspire them to keep doing robotics or give back down the road,” the student said. “This is my way of saying thank you to FIRST. My FLL experience has had such a positive impact on me that I have become an FLL mentor and moved on to participate in FTC.”

In the office, we’ve dubbed this “Gracious Giving” and are thrilled to watch the FIRST values come to life in Kansas City.