Cruising into fun times

Boys and Girls Club supporters raise funds for club members

Photo with no caption
By Lance Coleman
Blount Today

Supporters of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Blount County got the chance to meet a real survivor recently during the annual
fund-raiser at their facility in Eagleton.

Club members sang and performed skits and "Survivor: The Australian Outback" winner Tina Wesson spoke to the supporters who packed the gymnasium for the June 28 event. The party’s theme was "Ocean Cruise."

Club member Brianna Lewis acted as master of ceremonies for the event and encouraged the community members to remember how essential their support was to the young club members. "You are an important part of our formula for success," she said.

Lewis said that in the time she has been with the club, her life has improved. She has improved her grades in school,
learned valuable life skills and gotten physically fit, Lewis said.

The organization’s roots began in 1952. Today the Boys and Girls Club of Blount County boasts 377 members from seven area schools, Lewis said.

Johnelle Jackson is a parent of a club member. She spoke to the gathering, saying the club staff members perform a vital service. "They are the utmost professionals at keeping track of my children when I’m at work," she said. "I can tell you first hand, the faculty have taught both my children life skills."

Jackson said that when a parent has to work, the Boys and Girls Club is a safe place for their children to be. "I can tell you," she said, "it keeps getting better."

Courtney Dill, 10, a member of the club, said Boys and Girls Club helps young people become productive members of society. "The Boys and Girls Club attendees today will become the successful citizens of Blount County tomorrow," she said.

Wesson, a Knoxville native and author of "Out Live, Out Laugh, Out Love," entertained the audience with stories of her time on the television show. "If I had known I was going to get so much attention for a bad camping trip, I would have done it long ago," she said as the audience laughed.

Wesson also related the importance of the Boys and Girls Clubs. Living by giving enhances any person’s self-worth, she said.
"Their world is so different because they have this club," Wesson said of children who benefit from Boys and Girls clubs. "Today you’ll give these boys and girls a chance to level the playing field. All money raised today stays here. Our Boys and Girls club makes a difference in the entire neighborhood."

Wesson said that when she was 16, she accepted Christ as her personal savior. "He didn’t just come into me, He exploded into my soul," she said. "When I decided to go on ‘Survivor,’ I wanted to play the game as ethically as I could. I thought if I couldn’t win, I’ll just play my game and be happy."

She said after she and Colby Donaldson formed an alliance, they became inseparable and they rode the partnership to the final round. Donaldson kept his word to Wesson, even when it came to the point where he could have voted her off in favor of a contestant who wasn’t as popular as he was in the finals.

"Living relationally is what won me the game," she said. "That’s the only reason. Colby played a great game."

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