Young Tulsa Runners Raise Money For Junior Olympics

Saturday, July 18th 2009, 6:02 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A North Tulsa youth program is feeling the pinch of the struggling economy. Two young runners have qualified for the Junior Olympics, but haven't been able to raise enough money to go.

The Tulsa Express Track Club, a summer track team for kids, has been sending youth to national competitions for eight years and they've always been able to raise money from the local community.

On Saturday, they held a fish fry fundraiser to make sure this year isn't the end of the line.

"When I started in March, I was kind of struggling with it, it's going to be a tough year. And it turned out to be a tough year," said Melvin Collins, Tulsa Express Track Club coach.

More than 60 children are involved in the program. They practice two hours a night, four nights a week.

"When kids are out of school, they're either going to find something negative or something positive. So I'm here trying to give them a positive outlook on life and just give them something to do during the summer," said Coach Melvin Collins.

Collin Caesar, 13, and AJ Davis, 8, qualified for this year's AAU Junior Olympics in Des Moines, Iowa. The event runs July 27 to August 8.

AJ Davis says he thinks about it every night.

"Because I never made it to the nationals in my life," said AJ Davis, an 8-year-old runner.

But for the first time in eight years, Coach Melvin Collins may not be able to send them.

"Normally I have a few people that will donate to the organization, but this year it just wasn't there," said Coach Melvin Collins.

Coach Melvin Collins says he needs to raise about $5,000 for the week-long competition. So far, he has raised one-tenth of that. He is hopeful the fish fry will help. And to give some kids a shot of a lifetime, some parents are asking the community to help.

For more information visit Tulsa Express Track Club's web site or call (918) 284-2467.