Charity spotlight: 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 in 2014-2015.

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

So let’s give a standing O to Tristan Jones, a Marshfield 15-year-old with Down syndrome. He marked an item off his so-called bucket list recently by being welcomed to the Drury University men’s basketball program.

That’s right, he got seat with the team during games, attended practices, and hung with one of the best NCAA Division II basketball teams 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 the Ozarks community can help Tristan and more kids from ages 5 to 18 realize their dreams. Champions Committed to Kids has 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 has gifted almost $13 million to charities in its 26-year history.

About Champions Committed to Kids

Tristan Jones welcome

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

During the Missouri Winter Games a few years ago, Collins kicked around the idea of a sports-themed organization whose mission would be to provide kids fighting a serious illness and/or disability the opportunity to be a part of a high school, college, university or professional team while building lifelong friendships with their coaches and teammates. As a result, these kids often forget about their daily challenges while focusing on the game and the excitement of a sports atmosphere.

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

This is the fifth year Champions Committed to Kids, whose funding goes toward covering game concessions for the families and gas money, has been involved with the Price Cutter tournament.

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 team members,” 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 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 flew in to Disneyworld to help out at a fundraiser for muscular dystrophy.”

For the Jones family, the non-profit has been a blessing. Tristan’s mother says, “It’s been amazing–a reminder of all that is great about sports. Tristan has come a long way. He’s always been very social. And now the guys think of him as a teammate.”

RISING STARS, RAISING HOPES

  • BUSINESS SPONSORSHIPS: Businesses also can support the PCCC through various sponsorships, such as the skyboxes on the 9th and 18th greens (with food badges), on-course signage and events such as a dozen Pro-Ams. Businesses also can 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 presented by Copy Products, Inc. and University Plaza.

    The Ultimate sponsorship means air-conditioned seating on the 18th green and a chance to win a Corvette Stingray.
    The Ultimate sponsorship means air-conditioned seating on the 18th green and a chance to win a Corvette Stingray.
  • WIN A NEW TRUCK: The purchase of a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket can win one of 500 daily gift cards as well as grand prizes of $10,000 and a 2016 Ford F-150 XLT. It’s also good for a four-day tournament pass.

    Win this truck
    Win this truck or $10,000 in the TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes, for a $25 buy-in.
  • SEE THE FUTURE OF THE PGA TOUR: The PCCC is from Aug. 5-15, with the pros beginning play on Aug. 11 at Highland Springs Country Club. For tickets or other ways to assist, call the Price Cutter Charity Championship staff at 417-887-3400.

    Dawie vander Walt shows his winners trophy after the final round of the Price Cutter Charity Championship at Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield on August 16, 2015.
    Dawie vander Walt won the 2015 PCCC. (Photo courtesy of StidzMedia)
  • HELP CHAMPIONS COMMITTED TO KIDS: Championship Committed to Kids, a non-profit that places local kids with special needs with their favorite college or high school team, can be reached at 417-886-KIDS (5437).