Soon, “the little blue house” will be obsolete.
Thanks to a big assist from Myrtle Beach native and Charlotte Hornets guard Ramon Sessions, the capital campaign to raise money for the construction of a new, bigger facility for the Boys & Girls Club of the Grand Strand just got a large jump-start.
Sessions, a nine-year NBA veteran, announced Wednesday that he is donating $250,000 toward the project to replace the current facility, referred to as “the little blue house” by kids participating in the organization.
“My No. 1 dream was to dream big and I did that,” Sessions said. “Myrtle Beach is one of those places that I’m the only NBA player to make it from the area so it’s only right for me to just come back and do something bigger with the kids than just my basketball camp.”
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It’s a dream come true for me.
Boys & Girls Club of the Grand Strand CEO Dione Buonto said she believes the project — which she said will have a total cost of anywhere from $1.2 million to $1.6 million — can be completed within two years.
During the news conference, Buonto said the current building has undergone several renovations and it is “slanted by 12 inches.” She said the Boys & Girls Club was proud to have a partner like Sessions to help with constructing a new facility in the Booker T. Washington community.
The current facility — in conjunction with Mount Olive AME Church — serves about 250 kids. The goal for the new facility is to encompass around 400 children.
“It’s not going to be blue, but it will be accented with blue,” she said.
My vision was after three years in the league to be able to give back to the community. I wanted to give kids a safe environment.
The building is expected to include education space, a media center, a technology lab and a gymnasium with a full basketball court named “The Ramon Sessions Basketball Center.”
Sessions, who will begin his second stint with the Hornets this season after signing a two-year deal with the team in the offseason, will be a lead contributor toward the project while also being involved in the entire process.
“I’m going to be hands on,” Sessions said. “I’m not going to donate the money and disappear.”
I think in the long term that’s going to make a big impact because I think people don’t realize how blessed we are. I’ve been around the country and seen other places and know that there’s not a lot of opportunities for kids. But still yet, there’s some that fall between the cracks. That’s where the Boys & Girls Club is going to be there to fill those cracks. Not every kid might go to the rec center or go to play football or basketball into the organized sports, so how can we get them into this center here – The Ramon Sessions Basketball [Center] – to where, hey I want to be a part of that. So I think that’s going to help a lot to get to some of those kids who fall through the cracks.
City Councilman Mike Chestnut
City councilman Mike Chestnut said he believes the project will have a big impact on the community.
“To have somebody like Ramon, who grew up in the city — who grew up in the Racepath area that over the years has been known as a place that’s tough — I think it sets a good example for young folks to see that no matter how tough it is, as long as you do the right thing and listen to your parents and you keep focus, you can make it just like he has,” he said.
“I think it’s good for him to come back and give to the community. That’s a good example. Also, it inspires other young folks to keep trying, too. I’m proud of him. I can’t say enough how much I’m proud of him.”
A lot of people came before me that didn’t make the right decisions. I would watch people – whether they were doing the right things or the wrong things – and I learned from that.
Having signed with Charlotte, Sessions will be closer in proximity, making it easier for him to more frequently help the cause.
“It’s crazy. You would think this is how it was going to be planned out,” Sessions said. “But we all know in the NBA you never know what to expect. But it’s just perfect timing for this. It’s just coming together real well. To be honest, I was 22, 23 and I said by 30 I wanted to have all this stuff going and it just all happened all at the same time.”
Buonto said anyone can make donations by calling the Boys & Girls Club at 843-712-1977. She also said naming rights opportunities are available.
“Every dollar counts. Every donation counts,” she said. “Even if it’s a dollar or five dollars, it helps.”
Sessions annually hosts a charity golf tournament and a youth basketball camp in the area. He also annually gives away turkey dinners before Thanksgiving and holds a toy drive prior to Christmas in Racepath.
“It says Sessions on the back of my jersey, but I do it for Myrtle Beach,” Sessions said.