This family gives a standing ‘O’ to Champions Committed to Kids

Tristan Jones, center, became an honorary member of the Drury Panthers basketball team this past winter.
Tristan Jones, center, became an honorary member of the Drury Panthers basketball team this past winter. Photo courtesy of Drury University sports information.)

He’s one of those teens you pull for. A kid with a love for basketball. A good teammate who stands and cheers, and even works the crowd.

So, giving a standing O to Tristan Jones, a Marshfield 14-year-old with Down’s syndrome. He marked an item off his so-called bucket list this past winter by being welcomed to the Drury University men’s basketball program.

That’s right, he sat bench on the bench during games, attended practices and, overall, got to hang with one of the best NCAA Division II basketball programs in the country. All thanks to a non-profit called Champions Committed to Kids.

“For me and my husband, it’s meant a lot,” Mom April Jones said. “We never could have dreamed Tristan would have the opportunity to do this.”

Now local businesses and the local public can help Tristan and more kids realize their dreams. Champions Committed to Kids is teamed up again with the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper, a PGA Web.com Tour stop in August in Springfield.

The tournament distributed a record $1 million-plus a year ago, and here’s how to help this year’s 45 charities, including Championship Committed to Kids:

SUPPORTING THE PCCC = SUPPORTING CHARITIES

Buy a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket and all the money goes to your favorite charity -- and you also could win this 2015 Ford Mustang.
Buy a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket and all the money goes to your favorite charity — and you also could win this 2015 Ford Mustang.
  • HELP CHAMPIONS COMMITTED TO KIDS: Championship Committed to Kids, a non-profit that places local kids with their favorite college or high school team, can be reached at 417-886-5437.
  • BUSINESS SPONSORSHIPS: Businesses can support the PCCC through various sponsorships, such as the daily newsletter, website or through several events such as a dozen Pro-Ams. Call the PCCC staff at 417-887-3400.
  • BUSINESSES DONATE GIFT CARDS: Restaurants, clothing stores and entertainment stops and such are asked to donate a gift card with at least a $25 value in the name of your charity of choice to benefit them in the Golf Ball Charity Auction.
  • FOR GOLF FANS, WIN PRIZES: The purchase of a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket enters you to win grand prizes of $10,000 and a 2015 Ford Mustang as well as daily prizes – and you can see the golfers, too. A ticket also serves as a four-day tournament pass.
  • TICKET REVENUE GOES WHERE: Contact the local charity of your choice, simply because they receive revenue directly from those TLC Property Charity Sweepstakes tickets marked with their names.
  • WHEN, WHERE: The tournament is Aug. 7-17 at Highland Springs Country Club, with the pros playing beginning Aug. 13.
  • CONTACT: Call the Price Cutter Charity Championship staff at 417-887-3400.

About Champions Committed to Kids

Tristan Jones traveled with the Drury Panthers all the way through the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Tristan Jones traveled with the Drury Panthers all the way through the NCAA Division II Tournament. (Photo courtesy of Drury University sports information.)

Tristan is just one example of the great work done by Champions Committed to Kids, founded in January 2010 by Jeff Collins.

During the Missouri Winter Games a few years ago, Collins kicked around the idea of a sports-themed event to help lessen the trauma of kids fighting chronic illnesses and disease. To him, it was important to further athletes’ growth in character, honesty and discipline as well.

Now, the non-profit places Ozarks-area kids with teams at Missouri State, Drury, Evangel, Baptist Bible College and almost every high school across the area, plus the Springfield Cardinals.

This is the fourth year of Champions Committed to Kids’ involvement with the Price Cutter tournament, and any funds received goes toward covering for concessions for the families or gas money.

Typically, it’s a two-year relationship between child and team, although the bonds formed between players and the kids last a lifetime.

“Coaches have told me how much it means to their student-athletes,” Collins said. “As I’ve told the athletes, you have a chance to influence a young person’s life. In the community.”

He went on.

“What’s so special about it is that the child and the team have a bond,” Collins said. “They’ve gotten so close to these families that they invite them to (family events). One of the girl athletes at Drury, she flew in to Disney World to race and help out a fundraiser for muscular dystrophy.”

For the Jones family, the non-profit been a blessing, his mother said. Tristan has spent the summer already watching Drury basketball games on YouTube.

And if you saw Kameron Bundy’s game-winning shot at the O’Reilly Family Event Center – the play won a national award – there was Tristan right in the middle of the celebration.

It was a reminder of all that is great about sports.

“It’s been amazing,” April Jones said. “Tristan has come a long ways. He’s always been very social. But now the guys think of him as a teammate.”

 

 

At Christ-centered Polk County KLIFE, teens find their way

Chuck and Jamie Martin lead Polk County KLIFE.
Chuck and Jamie Martin lead Polk County KLIFE.

To Bolivar High School senior Annie Roberts, a Christ-centered organization called Polk County KLIFE has meant, well, everything.

“I was relatively … not shy but I wouldn’t talk as much. I didn’t have a lot to say. I struggled with self-worth,” said Roberts, a KLIFE member since the sixth grade. “But things changed at KLIFE. It just grows your relationship with the Lord. Being a kid in small groups, it’s been a growing experience and has meant so much.”

Polk County KLIFE certainly can be a positive influence in the lives of young people, and is hoping to expand its reach with your help. The non-profit is new this year to the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper, a PGA Web.com Tour stop in August in Springfield.

The tournament has generated almost $12 million for Ozarks-area children’s charities, including a record $1 million-plus last year alone. Here’s how to help this year’s 45 charities, including Polk County KLIFE:

SUPPORTING THE PCCC = SUPPORTING CHARITIES

Buy a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket and all the money goes to your favorite charity -- and you also could win this 2015 Ford Mustang.
Buy a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket and all the money goes to your favorite charity — and you also could win this 2015 Ford Mustang.
  • HELP POLK COUNTY KLIFE: The Bolivar-based non-profit is a youth ministry focused on mentoring, coaching and disciplining teens. To help or donate through the PCCC, call 417-266-3500.
  • BUSINESS SPONSORSHIPS: Businesses can support the PCCC through various sponsorships, such as the daily newsletter, website or through several events such as a dozen Pro-Ams. Call the PCCC staff at 417-887-3400.
  • BUSINESS GIFT CARDS: Restaurants, clothing stores and entertainment stops and such are asked to donate a gift card with at least a $25 value in the name of your charity of choice to benefit them in the Golf Ball Charity Auction.
  • FOR GOLF FANS, WIN PRIZES: The purchase of a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket enters you to win daily prizes during the tournament. You’re also entered to win grand prizes of $10,000 and a 2015 Ford Mustang – and you can see the golfers, too. A ticket also serves as a four-day tournament pass.
  • TICKET REVENUE GOES WHERE: Contact the local charity of your choice, simply because they receive revenue directly from those TLC Property Charity Sweepstakes tickets marked with their names.
  • WHEN, WHERE: The tournament is Aug. 7-17 at Highland Springs Country Club, with the pros playing beginning Aug. 13.
  • CONTACT: Call the Price Cutter Charity Championship staff at 417-887-3400.

About Polk County KLIFE

KLIFE-bus

Roberts is emblematic of KLIFE’s success stories. She’s now a leader in the organization’s “klubs” and has found a calling. She is more out-going and is on the dance team at Bolivar High School. After graduation, she plans to attend Southwest Baptist University and pursue a degree in secondary education.

You see, she doesn’t shy away from standing in front of a classroom. Helping kids is a top priority.

“My freshman year in high school, I wouldn’t have even thought of SBU,” said Roberts, who wants to move into a leadership role at KLIFE. “Now if you ask me, I don’t want to go anywhere else. I feel like the Lord wants me to be there.”

Through KLIFE, Roberts has achieved just what the organization sets out to do: build relationships centered on the gospel.

The organization began as a follow-up ministry for Kanakuk Kamps in the 1980s, but the ministry has grown to reach both Kanakuk campers as well as students who do not attend Kanakuk.

KLIFE-camp

These days, KLIFE has 31 chapters across the country and a local board governs each chapter. And, most importantly, organizers try to keep it relevant for today’s youths. The Polk County chapter offers hangouts such as the 5th Quarter following football games, or snow sledding as well as a big trip each semester. This past spring, it was a trip to Silver Dollar City.

As Roberts put it, “This year, we started workshop clubs and it’s a good way to go from the excitement of games to the excitement of the lesson.”

Ben Salmon, chapter director of Polk County KLIFE, concurs.

“That’s one of the things we like about it,” Salmon said. “Everybody wants to feel they belong. We want to show that (all students) are great and there is a place where they belong.”