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20 years of Angels: Back to the beginning with Coach Terrell Hankins

Photo source: WEAR-TV

When we first met Terrell Hankins in 1997, he was a 15-year-old who, for years, had sought refuge with the youth sports league. He went there to avoid a home, often without electricity, and the streets that had claimed far too many of his family. When he became too old to play, he helped coach and would tutor the other children at the community center. There was one particular act that brought Terrell to our attention. This was the story that youth sports director Lumon May shared with us back then; "When Terrell has a dollar, all the kids in the center have a dollar. I remember his working here last summer and earning his money and one kid he was able to to out and purchase this kid a pair of cleats. We didn't even know that Terrell had purchased the cleats. And I know that he needed the money for his school clothes but he decided that he wanted to give the kid a pair of cleats. I said, "Terrell, why did you do it?" He said, "He needed them, coach." And that was enough said."

20 years later, Terrel Hankins is still on the field, coaching for the Southern Youth Sports Association. He works for Reichhold Chemical Company and he and his wife have a large blended family. Like others rescued him, that's the commitment Terrell says he wants to bring to this next generation. "That they will be successful in life and, I mean, just be good model citizens. That's my hope. That's always my hope when I'm coaching."

Some of the same coaches who fed, transported, cared for and mentored Terrell are also still here. The founder of the Southern Youth Sports Association, Coach Lumon said they couldn't be prouder of the man he has become. "When I think of Kelley Mackey, who's gone on; I think of Billy Hepworth. I think of many coaches who sowed into Terrell's life. I think back, Susan Senkarik, Ted Hendry; and I think back to the Crawfords and Morris Marx, when we gave Terrell that scholarship; to Dan Shugart who was coaching. Many of those people are not in daily contact with Terrell but their legacy, their investment, lives on through Terrell being able to come out here and continue to coach and mentor and tutor children."

As for those cleats that first got our attention, I asked, "Do you find yourself still going into your pocket, Coach?

Yeah, uh, you know, I do. Don't tell my wife but, yeah, I do. Sometimes, you know, you just have to. Some kids don't have it. I mean, most of these kids, I see myself."

For Terrel Hankins, coaching, tutoring, mentoring, feeding; it's just repaying a debt of gratitude. "I owe this program my life. And I'm giving back."

Angels In Our Midst is sponsored by Nemours Children's Specialty Care.

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