BUTTE, MT - You may have seen him, you may have not. He is always around, always doing what needs to be done for the greater good, and wants no recognition for his actions.

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I'm not talking about your kid's favorite superhero, or even a local community official or group. Though he's definitely a hero, he doesn't shroud himself in political involvement and red tape, nor does he clad himself in protective armor. This person, in their eyes, is no one special, no one worth writing about, and is just a human doing what needs to be done. Others in the community of Butte, MT, think very differently.

You may have driven by this man once or twice yourself, given that he always seems to be everywhere at once, walking miles and miles every single day. Sporting Butte's traditional uniform, a beanie, hoodie, work jeans, and a pair of worn boots, this man patrols the main streets of the Copper City, looking for and picking up litter, debris, and trash discarded from the more questionable members of our community. He appears to always be by himself, focused, and God-sent, determined to clean the streets that many have given up on, one piece of trash at a time.

When this story first presented itself to me in the form of a Facebook post, I was a little apprehensive to pursue it. Hundreds of people shared their sentiments on this one man, inspiring everyone to do and be better, whether by picking up trash themselves or just serving our community selflessly like this man. But many shared the man's aversion to the spotlight: he seemed to have no interest in sharing the reasons behind his actions or explaining himself, let alone sharing his name or story.

This is when I was connected to a lovely gentleman named Dennis Samples, who volunteered to help me find this man and see if he'd be willing to talk to me and answer some questions Dennis and other community members share. Is this man aware of the inspiration he infects others with? Is this man doing the nitty-gritty for the love of the city, the joy of being busy with a task, or for the simple and humble motivation of just doing what needs to be done? If anything, it was evident that we all wanted to know the same thing: who is this man?

Weeks started to pass by. Dennis was reaching out to me on an almost daily basis, and, because of this, we got to know each other a little bit more. The more Dennis and I texted about this gentleman, the more I realized how much this man meant to Dennis. "I know when I drive home every day down Highway 2, it just feels happy because the roadway is so nice and clean," Dennis shared with me one evening. "All because of him."

The man. Credit: Dennis Samples
The Butte legend himself. Credit: Dennis Samples

That's when it hit me.

We, as humans, are naturally drawn towards identity. We want to know this man's name, where he comes from, why he does what he does, his story, everything about him. However, this man represents something much bigger and more meaningful than just who he is. The man is represented through nothing but his actions. A physical manifestation of doing the right thing. Like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery, his outward identity is reflected through his helpful and honorable actions, and his true identity might as well be known to no one but God.

"It's grown to be a very big deal in my mind. He has no reason for doing it. He gains nothing. He just does it," Dennis muses. "I wonder if he knows the difference it makes in our community? I wonder if most people here know that one man is making our community more appealing?"

One thing is certain: the roads into and out of Butte, the roads thousands of people take daily, the roads that—on some level—represent our beloved city, are now much cleaner because of one nameless man. And, because of him, we all have a reason to be a little bit prouder today.

Even if just one person reading this article was inspired to pick up a few pieces of trash on the road next time they were out, then this man would achieved what he set out to do in the first place: make Butte a more beautiful place.

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