THE JEFFERSON AWARDS: Our May winner changes lives through basketball

Every month FOX 47 features someone in our community who is making a difference and we honor them with a Jefferson Award. 

Our May winner uses the game of basketball to try to keep young people away from gangs, drugs, and violence. 

This might look like your average basketball practice, but something special is happening here.

The man behind T&K Basketball is the winner of our latest Jefferson Award.

Teddy Collins started the organization in 2013.

It was in memory of his brother, Rodney, who was killed at the age of 10 by a stray bullet from a gang-related shooting.

"To keep the kids of Rochester off the streets, away from gangs, drugs and violence, and put them in a positive environment in our community," Collins said. 

Young people from across Southeast Minnesota between the ages of 14-21 can join the league at no cost. 

"By them getting a chance and coming here and playing basketball and hanging out with more of their peers, they’re able to let out a lot of their energy," said Collins. 

"It’s giving us a place to go and play basketball in the gym and stay out of trouble so it’s always nice to have," said Deonte Moore, one of the basketball players in the league. 

Over the last five years, the program has grown from about 18 players, to now having helped 200 young people find a positive influence. 

The chairman of T&K’s Board of Directors, Mark St. Peter, nominated Teddy for the Jefferson Award. 

St. Peter says Collins lives his life with integrity and passion. 

"Teddy defines a grassroots effort," St. Peter said. "He was a one man show. He went door to door soliciting funds from businesses to help support him in what he was trying to accomplish. And what inspires me about Teddy is that he started T&K Basketball on a shoestring budget and he was financing it by himself with his tax return. Who does that?"

"It’s my passion. It’s my passion to help kids," Collins said. "I was–a long time ago– I was one of these kids."

And that’s what keeps him going.

"If they don’t have an event like this to come together and participate in, a lot of these kids would be out on the street doing whatever," Collins said. "So if I can volunteer and give them my time for a few hours a week, I would do it every day if I could."

T&K Basketball is looking for more volunteers and gym space as the program continues to grow.

You can find more information here.

And if you know someone who’s also making a difference, you can nominate them for a Jefferson Award here



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