The Boys and Girls club helps young kids to develop confidence, character and seek out a brighter future.
It all started in 1968, with a pick up truck and a man with a dream. Lou Dantzler, Founder, President, and CEO of Challengers Boys & Girls Club, loaded boys in his pick up truck and took them to the park to play. They played sports and the boys would talk to Lou about the problems they had on the streets and at their homes. Lou was influenced by these kids and wanted to be a positive role model to them and help them out. He found a place that would keep the kids off the streets; where they could be safe and have fun at the same time, and they did.
July 5, 2006, Lou Dantzler unfortunately passed away. He was a great influence on the kids and his sons, Corey and Mark Dantzler. Corey Dantzler, who was Vice President and the Director of Operations, became President and CEO of Challengers. He continues his father’s mission of providing and serving young kids a safe, fun, and healthy environment they can benefit from instead of hanging out in streets and joining gangs. His mission was to give them an opportunity to better themselves and their future; all Lou wanted for kids was hope. Corey made sure his father’s goal was carried out successfully by running Challengers but it’s not an easy job.
Today, Challengers is a very well known organization that young kids and teens love to go to. Challengers provides recreational sports, fine arts, class activities, career development classes, and game rooms. They also have science and computer rooms where they’re learning and having mental fun at the same time. Most of the younger kids look up to the teens there, so they’re determined to set a fine example. Deric Daniels, the teen supervisor, agrees that the teens there are very well-mannered and are great leaders. As well as being authoritative he thinks it’s very necessary to be apart of teens lives. “I think teenagers sometimes need not necessarily somebody that needs authority over them, but they need that friend at the same time…I’ve opened up to be a friend as well as an advisor or a sergeant parent even if I need to be,” Deric states.
Annually Challengers holds different events such as the Annual Pancake Breakfast, the Annual Sports Day Competition, and the Annual Expedition Park Walk. These events take place during the summer and you will find a lot of kids there smiling, running, and laughing. I know this because I was once a member at Challengers Boys & Girls Club and I enjoyed my time there very much. I would play basketball with friends and go on field trips to amusement parks. My first job was at Challengers when they offered a summer job program to the teens; I was one of the lucky ones that got picked. They really gave me “hands on” experience working with the younger kids and helping the other staff; they prepared me for the real world.
Recently, Deric Daniels asked me if I would like to join him to play in a game of basketball, which was a part of their Annual Sports Day and I was more than glad to participate. By playing in that game it made me realize how great, supportive, and happy everyone was with the staff interacting with the kids and just having a good time. When I first walked through those gates, Challengers gave me the tools of knowledge, the grasp of opportunity, and a mind for success. Lou Dantzler’s presence must have still been there because I left with hope.