Dwain Rice is pictured with his wife, Krystal, and son, Dekai. The couple was married in October 2009. Photo courtesy of Krystal Rice.
Dwain Robert Rice, a 2007 Physical Therapy alumnus, passed away after a motorcycle accident on May 19, 2013. He was 33 years old.
"In a gentle way, you can shake the world." -Mahatma Gandhi
The story of Dwain Rice’s life reads a bit like a great love story. There is romance, world travel, and most notably, a lot of heart.
Dwain started out in life as a world traveler. He was born to Richard and Suk Ja Yoon Rice on January 27, 1980, in El Paso, Texas, and his world-wide adventures began, due to his father’s service in the U.S. Army. As a child, Dwain learned the Korean language from his mother, and he had learned German before beginning kindergarten in Hanau, Germany. When the family was reassigned to Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina, Dwain spent his first-grade year learning English. He was always a faster learner and quickly caught up with his classmates. Dwain completed first through fourth grades in the U.S. and the fifth through eighth grades in Taegu, Korea. His high school years were spent in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Dwain’s journey continued after high school, when he attended Alabama A & M University. During that time, he became the proud father of his first son, Dekai, born on November 26, 2003. Dwain pledged the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, and he embraced his legendary status for his no-rhythm version of the “Kappa Shimmy.”
Wherever Dwain went, he made friends and touched lives. His nicknames included Kodak and D-Smooth, and he considered his biological family, friends, neighbors, fraternity brothers, and anyone in his circle as his family. According to his obituary: “Family was the cornerstone of his existence … He built strong lasting relationships because he was loyal, sacrificial, helpful, dependable, smart, funny, frugal, and positive. With those qualities, he made friends easily. Even his enemies wanted to be his friend. It didn’t matter who you were or what you needed; he was there without reservation and never expected anything in return.”
UK was the next stop on Dwain’s journey. He received his Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Physical Therapy from the UK, and he made lasting impressions on the faculty and on his classmates.
“Dwain was a good student. He worked hard,” said Tony English, PT, PhD, Director of the CHS Division of Physical Therapy. “He had a good sense of humor. He was humble and represented the program well.”
Dwain’s classmate Mary Proffitt PT, DPT, OCS remembers him for his helpful attitude and his ability to make anyone laugh, even in the midst of a bad day. “He had the most infectious smile and a servant’s heart,” Mary said. “He had a positive and calm attitude, even during the most stressful semesters of PT school.”
Kris Kaufman, PT also remembers his classmate Dwain for his “everlasting smile” and the way he could lift the spirits of a room full of people in a matter of seconds. But his effects on his classmates and all of those he touched along the way go far beyond a great smile and a good sense of humor. Kris explained that to truly understand Dwain, you had to feel his presence.
“Dwain represented so much more about life than simply character descriptors, which is difficult to explain. Probably because it can’t be explained and for good reason: it had to be felt,” Kris said. “This ability he had to affect those around him was his ultimate gift to the world. It is a gift which is truly a blessing to those of us that were lucky enough to have experienced it. Dwain’s enthusiasm about life continues to be a blessing to many.”
Following his graduation from UK, Dwain put his servant’s heart – and hands – to work in Louisville as a Physical Therapist for Norton Health Care and Gentiva Home Health.
It was during this time, that the story of Dwain’s life intersected with the story of Krystal Hinkle’s life. Their romance began in 2009 with a friend asking for Krystal’s phone number on behalf of Dwain. His confidence was shaken by his overwhelming feelings of love at first sight.
Dwain won Krystal’s heart, and their love story took a beautiful turn with their marriage on October 10, 2009, and later the birth of their son, Kaden Robert. The family enjoyed an active life in their community and church, including Dwain’s coaching of youth basketball.
Dwain Rice left this life far too early at the age of 33 years old, but his impact – his heart – lives on in the many hearts he touched along the way. His former classmate Kris summed it up well with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “In a gentle way you can shake the world.”
“Dwain did just that during his short time here on Earth,” he said, “but the world will continue to shake because of the people he touched along the way.”
-- Melanie Sparks, CHS PR & Marketing Coordinator
The UK College of Health Sciences is in the process of establishing an endowment for the Dwain Robert Rice Memorial Scholarship. Thanks to the generosity of Dwain's wife, Krystal Rice, this endowment will perpetuate once reaching $25,000 by accepting donations over the next five years.
"One thing everyone knew about Dwain was that he LOVED UK! I am a devoted Cards fan so we had a lot of fun being a house divided," Krystal said. "He was an awesome person and was loved by so many people. He had a beautiful smile and a big heart. He would do anything to help others. I miss him so much, but it brings joy to my heart to begin working on this scholarship in his honor."
It is in keeping with Dwain's giving spirit that Krystal has chosen to honor his memory through scholarships to deserving PT students. Scholarships awarded from this fund will go to Physical Therapy students who have a GPA of 3.0 or higher; have overcome adversity while in college; have financial need; and complete an essay (topic to be determined by donor and committee).
Please consider making a contribution to help honor Dwain -- the man with a big smile and an even bigger heart.
Dwain (far right) pictured with several of his PT classmates.
"It would be an understatement to say Dwain possessed a positive personality or that he was kind. Or that he was a hard worker. Or nice, gracious, gentle, loving, dedicated, diverse, funny, great laugh, etc. All of these descriptors of Dwain are certainly true. However, the true Dwain was so much more than the sum of these characteristics. It would be like saying Dwain had an everlasting smile (which he certainly did), but that wouldn't be the half of it. The true Dwain wasn't that great smile, but the fact that his smile would bore happiness deep down into you. The true Dwain wasn't his great sense of humor, but was the way he could lift up the spirits of an entire room of people in seconds ... The true Dwain wasn't his gentle nature, but rather the resulting love and trust you would suddenly feel. These examples are only a few of many. Dwain represented so much more about life than simply character descriptors, which is difficult to explain. Probably because it can't be explained and for good reason: it had to be felt. Felt on an emotional and visceral level. This ability he had to effect those around him was his ultimate gift to world. A gift which is truly a blessing to those of us that were lucky enough to have experienced it. Dwain's enthusiasm about life continues to be a blessing to many. Mahatma Gandhi once stated that 'in a gentle way you can shake the world.' Dwain did just that during his short time here on Earth, but the world will continue to shake because of the people he touched along the way." -- Kris Kaufman, PT
"He had the most infectious smile and a servant’s heart. He was always willing to help out other classmates, and could make anyone laugh off a bad day. He had a positive and calm attitude, even during the most stressful semesters of PT school." --Mary Proffitt PT, DPT, OCS
"Dwain was really one of those people that you know you are going to like the first time you meet them. I knew from the first I interviewed Dwain, he was someone that we wanted on our team and I could not have been more right. Dwain worked for Gentiva Home Health from 2010 until the time of his passing. Dwain is greatly missed. All of us here at Gentiva came to know and love Dwain and his family…We all loved his infectious attitude which was always punctuated with his famous smile. We all loved the way he cared for his wife and children. We all loved the way he cared for our patients with great skill and compassion. As his supervisor, I received countless letters and phone calls from patients during Dwain’s time with Gentiva.They were eternally grateful for not only the way Dwain guided them toward a return in function, but also the way in which he did it – always with a fun, upbeat and positive attitude. In the days and weeks and months following Dwain’s accident, our office was flooded with calls and letters from past patients detailing how Dwain went above and beyond for them. Dwain always went the extra mile to advocate for our patients. On his own time, Dwain made sure they had food, made sure they had clothes, and regularly came back to visit and check in on them after discharge. The fact that we never knew about these things until now though shows what kind of man Dwain was…humble, selfless, and caring. There is a saying that goes…'The greatest joy in this world is doing a good deed for someone that has absolutely no way of paying you back.' That was Dwain…and perhaps that’s the reason he always had that infectious smile." -- Eric Wint, PT, OCS, Rehab Director, Gentiva Home Health
If you'd prefer to make a contribution by check, please mail check, payable to the University of Kentucky, to:
UK College of Health Sciences
ATTN: Keturah Taylor
CTW Building, Room 123
900 S. Limestone Street
Lexington, KY 40536-0200
If you have questions, please contact Keturah Taylor at (859) 218-0479 or Keturah.Taylor@uky.edu.
Story by Melanie J Sparks, Director of Communications