On Oct. 24, more than 200 supporters gathered to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Boys and Girls Club of Benton. Held each October, the event is hosted by the Ocoee …
On Oct. 24, more than 200 supporters gathered to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Boys and Girls Club of Benton. Held each October, the event is hosted by the Ocoee Youth Center board of directors.
The theme for this year’s event was “Olympic Spirit.”
Special guest and keynote speaker was former Bradley County resident and 1996 U.S. Olympic Canoeist Wayne Dickert. Dickert, who competed on the U.S. Whitewater Team in the tandem canoe competition on the Ocoee River during the ’96 Olympics now serves as the minister of the Bryson City United Methodist Church in Bryson City, N.C. Dickert also has an outreach mission, “River of Life Ministries” on the Nantahala River.
Dickert shared with the audience how blessed he felt growing up in the Ocoee Region, where beauty, nature and outdoor recreation abound.
“Although we didn’t have a Boys and Girls Club back then, we did have the YMCA and Boy Scouts. I also spent many summers at Camp Ocoee on Parksville Lake.” Dickert went on to tell how his love for the Ocoee River turned into a surprise wedding.
“I had already asked her to marry me,” he said, “so I came up with a scheme. I loaded my boat with my bride-to-be, a minister and myself, and while whitewater rafting one afternoon, I pulled over at Goforth Creek, looked at my bride and asked, are you ready to get married? She was pleasantly surprised and happily accepted, and we were married on the side of the river at Goforth Creek.”
Dickert continued sharing his memoirs of the people who most influenced his life growing up, including those whose advice and assistance launched his career as a paddler, which led him to the decision of trying out for the U.S. Olympic Whitewater Team. He emphasized to the audience the importance of being a mentor to the next generation of young adults as it can mean all the difference in what path they choose in life.
“Never, ever underestimate the impact you can make on a child’s life,” Dickert concluded.
Rachel Lowe, secretary of the Ocoee Youth Center board of directors then expressed the current needs of the Benton Boys and Girls Club.
“The club started in 2007 in a leased facility. In 2011, we opened a new facility of our very own, but almost immediately outgrew the space we could afford to build at the time. Our need for expansion is great; therefore, we are launching a capital campaign to build a gymnasium and teen center adjacent to our current building. We need to raise approximately $300,000 to accomplish our goal and are approximately a third of the way there. With your support, we can and will reach this goal.”
The evening finished in grand style with a drawing for prizes and an auction, conducted by auctioneer Steve Hixson, that was filled with lots of wonderful items donated by local individuals and businesses.
The Ocoee Youth Center/Benton Boys and Girls Club board of directors thanked those who attended the. Special thanks goes to the sponsors for the evenings affair: Dr. David and Jan Darden, Watson Family Dealership, Ed Jacobs and Associates, Polk County Chamber of Commerce, Mathews Construction, First Volunteer Bank, Ocoee Outdoors/Ocoee River Barn/Ocoee Zipz, Ocoee River Jam, George Gray – Allstate Insurance, Al Pierce, Boys and Girls Club of Meigs County, Raby’s Collision, Nature’s Point Trailer Park, Hiwassee Farm Venue, Artistic Landscapes, Benton United Methodist Church, Old Fort Tire, Preferred Pharmacy, Crystal Geyser/C.G. Roxane, McDonalds, Check Into Cash, Cleveland Plywood, Clear View Baptist Church, Scale Trains, First Bank of Tennessee, Wetmore Baptist Church, Ocoee Utilities and WoodmenLife.
“We feel very blessed with the turnout for the event,” stated Al Pierce, president of the Ocoee Youth Center Board. “The youth of today need more positive examples than any other generation before us. It is truly inspiring to see so many people who support the growth and development of our youth.”
Anyone interested in more information about the future expansion or ways you can help the club achieve their goals, please contact Unit Director, Holly Stroud at 423-299-9057.
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