CI Heroes: Basketball Camp Teaches Life Lessons

Published 08/11 2014 11:17PM

Updated 08/11 2014 11:23PM

PEORIA - Summer brings all types of things for kids. A popular one, basketball camp.
An annual event for fifth through eighth graders is sharpening those on-the-court skills.
But its founder wants campers to take home much more.
The loud gym on a summer Saturday morning is peace to James DeLoatche.
James DeLoatche says, "It's been a tremendous healing process."
“This is my son, Julius, we founded the camp in his name,” explains James. “We tragically lost him 15 years ago in a house fire. He was 10 years old."
Fifteen years ago, and the Julius DeLoatche Basketball Camp has grown immensely.
“The fact that we have these kids coming out to this basketball camp to honor his memory, it keeps his memory alive,  just seeing what they do each year,” explains DeLoatche.
For five weeks in the summer, the kids are in camp.
For free.
What happens in this gym, though, is much more than basketball.
DeLoatche says he doesn't preach.
They teach moral principles.
Starting each day with a reminder, and finishing with rewards for doing what's expected.
“Kids need something they can bank on, something they can have to guide them in life," DeLoatche explains.
DeLoatche's life was completely thrown off track when he lost Julius, “I can't describe what it's like to lose a child."
But as he guides these kids, his kids, he can't help but think of everything they all have gained.
DeLoatche adds,  "If you can keep one child out of trouble, keep one child off dope, you can keep one child out of jail. It was certainly worthwhile.")>>
The camp wrapped up this week,
 Kids get school supplies and cash rewards at the end.
A banquet, for the kids and their families is this weekend at the dream center.
As for the camp, DeLoatche hopes to expand the model into surrounding counties, soon,

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