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).

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.”