In the fall of 2004, YES started operating X-Cite Nite at the Riverside Community Center. It was then that we met Reggie, a 4th grader who went by the name “Pudgy.” He never missed any events that YES offered. He was at every X-Cite Nite before the doors opened and never left until the doors were shut. He became especially close with my son-in-law, Jeff, who was a co-founder of YES. For three years Jeff would spend extra time with Reggie and a couple of the other boys playing sports or grabbing a bite to eat and he truly became a role model for Reggie and the two of them developed a close bond.
Unfortunately, on November 15, 2007, Jeff passed away. X-Cite Nite did not operate from that time until mid-January of 2008. Reggie was more devastated than any of the other youth. In seventh grade, living only with his grandmother, he had no other true friend or adult role model. In January, he came to two X-Cite Nite events and then we did not see him the rest of the spring. I tried contacting him, but was unsuccessful.
In late June Reggie came searching for me. I asked how he had been and why he stopping coming to YES events and he explained what happened. In January, he and some neighborhood kids were walking home and two of the kids stopped in a small store. They came running out after they had burglarized the store and yelled, “Run!” Everyone else started running through yards and jumping fences, but since Reggie did not have the ability to do that, he just ran down the street and was eventually caught by police.
Reggie, for fear of his well being, would not share the names of the other youth who were involved and because of that he spent five months in a youth correctional facility. As we talked that day in June, he shared his deep grief of losing Jeff, fear of the future, and an uncertainty of what was in store for him especially with an aging grandmother. He asked me if I could supply him with a mentor and fortunately I was able to match him with one. Their relationship blossomed throughout Reggie’s high school years. We would run into each other from time to time and I could see the evidence of a strong and committed individual helping to guide him through life. We still talk about the influence that Jeff had on his life and he always asks about my daughter and my grandson and granddaughter who Jeff left behind.
Today Reggie is married with a two-year-old daughter. He is a licensed medical technician at an area hospital and has a bright future ahead of him.