MACON - The Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame is recognizing three "Youth of the Year" finalists right here in Macon.
Of all of those finalists, Cameron Gooden is passionate about pool, and to say he is just OK at playing would be an understatement.
For Gooden, it is not just a game he plays at the Boys and Girls Club on Anthony Road in Macon, but really an escape. Gooden said the Boys and Girls Club helped put him on the right track.
"It was a hard, hard, hard life growing up, but I made it through, and everything that did not kill me made me stronger," Gooden said.
Just like when you're playing pool, sometimes in life you need a break, and for Gooden, that came for him in a car ride.
"I drove past here one day on my way to school one day, me and my siblings saw the Boys and Girls Club opening, so we decided to go there, and from there, it just took off," Gooden said
At this point, Gooden's life took a different course in life.
"There were some instances where you had to choose to stay out of trouble and the Boys and Girls Club helped me do that," Gooden Said.
And with that, Kristen Steinmann, who is the Vice President of Operations and Program Services, explained how they do that.
"Our juvenile crime peaks between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., and we're open from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. as an outlet," Steinmann said.
While Gooden is growing into a young man, his role at the club has also.
"A role model -- someone they look forward to and be like, 'He grew up right here in the club just like I did, and I can be like him one day, successful and inspiring,'" Gooden said.
Not only does Gooden want to help the community but also improve the perception of Macon.
"So that the young people here can have better opportunities and so that everything will be better in Macon, Georgia. Give it a better picture, give it a name," Gooden said
While Gooden is very excited to be a finalist, so are Kedar Little-Brooks and Nigel Wilmore Jr.
"It feels amazing, because it shows my hard work and my dedication to be successful is not being overlooked. It's apparent," Wilmore said.
And Brooks is fired up about being a finalist as well.
"It feels great because it means I've accomplished a lot while I was here, and the stuff they taught me, I've used it in a respectful way and it's made a positive impact on me," Little-Brooks said.
Now the winner will be announced on Thursday. If you would like to attend, click this link so you can purchase tickets. All proceeds from the event will go to the Boys and Girls Club.
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