Eleven. Let that sink in.
He belonged to a neighborhood team called the Woodland Tigers, from Woodland Terrace in Ward 8.
“My 2001 football team had 28 players,” longtime coach Michael Steve Zanders told The Washington Post's Petula Dvorak. “Only five are still living.”
But wait, there's more: "And then on Sunday, Jamal Bandy, a 27-year-old assistant coach with the Tigers, was shot dead in a Southeast drive-by. No word on a motive or arrest in that case."
In my experience from working in all wards in DC, I've seen how parts of this city are held together by a fabric woven from non-profits and government programs but mostly individuals like Zanders, who devote their time and energy to saving kids and families from crime and poverty. Every neighborhood has one...the person people go to when they need something: bus fare to a job interview, diapers for their baby, clothes for their kids. It's often these individuals who are most effective at keeping kids alive and families together.
Why the Gofundme? Because "[Zanders has] lost substantial funding for his rec program and thinks that’s part of why he can’t reach more kids. The uniforms, field fees, travel fees — it’s all pricey in a neighborhood where parents have little extra cash to contribute."
So much of DC has more than it needs, in some cases ridiculously so. We complain about the kids on the Metro or at Gallery Place, but then we get home or meet our friends at the bar and we don't think about them again. And then we read about a kid like Karon Brown...and we are momentarily sad but we still don't make the connection.
Here's the connection: help this man reach more kids, so we don't have to read about 11 year olds getting killed trying to run from petty territorial street fights.
More from the Post article:
They were all in the computer lab of their rec center recently when 57-year old Zanders, thinking of how tired his bones are getting and how many funerals he’s been too, said out loud, “Maybe this will be the last year I do this.”
“And the whole room went quiet,” he said. “And they all looked at me. And one of them said, ‘What’s going to happen to us if you stop?’ And right there, I knew I’m going to be doing this the rest of my life.”
It's not just his responsibility. It's everybody's.
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