Beginning this nonprofit in 1989, Eddie Lee Wilkins, formerly of the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers, hosted the first basketball camp in 1990 in the midst of a six-season NBA career.
Playing a large role in the organization is Wilkins’ wife, Dawn Wilkins.
“He’s from Cartersville and played with the New York Knicks and wanted to give something back,” she said. “It started with basketball, but each year we added new and exciting programs.”
Mrs. Wilkins said the organization provides “athletic and social intervention camps” which gives the youth something to do and stay out of trouble.
Last year’s camp, according to her, had a great turnout as they saw many returning campers as well as newcomers.
“A lot of people come by word of mouth…Each year it’s rewarding when we get a variety of newcomers,” she said.
The camp has been known to have special guests come through, she said.
“The children always look forward to see who’s coming,” Mrs. Wilkins said.
In past years, she said, there have been appearances from NBA Hall of Famer and former Wilkins teammate Patrick Ewing, as well as former University of Tennessee player Alicia Manning, Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith and Olympic gold medalist Gwen Torrence.
With the camps being sponsored by the city of Cartersville, Mrs. Wilkins said she and her husband are appreciative of all the city has done to help the organization.
“We are grateful to the city of Cartersville and Cartersville City Schools for making the program possible,” she said.
There will be four camps throughout the month — track and fitness this week, baseball Thursday and Friday, basketball Monday through June 19, and dance June 24 through 26.
The camps are free and open to youth ages 6 to 15.
The track and fitness camp was coached by National Strength and Conditioning Association-certified coach, Paul Fortunato.
Fortunato has more than 15 years of experience working with athletes from youth to professionals.
Information: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.elwyouth.org.