CUTHBERT, Ga. – It’s the kind of story we all like to hear, a professional athlete returns home to give back to the community where he grew up.
Cuthbert, Georgia, population less than 4,000. About an hour south of Columbus, it’s home to Randolph County Elementary School. That’s where Donnell Harvey got his early education.
“It seems like it was just yesterday that I walked these same hallways, played in this same playground,” says Harvey.
Donnell rode his basketball skills all the way to the NBA. Recognize the guy he’s guarding? Yep, that’s Michael Jordan. Donnell spent 15 years in the pros, part of that time playing overseas nowadays you’ll find him in his elementary school gym shooting hoops with kids enrolled in an after-school program that he started.
“I implemented my youth program to really just maximize a young kid’s opportunity. I want to make sure they’ll be able to get a chance to experience somewhat the same thing I have, and at least have the opportunity to move forward,” says Harvey.
Donnell started his reconstructing youth foundation 15-years ago. Out of that grew this free after-school program anywhere from 150 to 225 kids participate each day Monday through Friday during the school year. No one is happier about it than the school’s principal who says budget cuts had wiped out after-school activities. Then Donnell Harvey came along.
“It has just been a huge opportunity for the children because they now have activities, organized activities that they do after school. They get help with homework. They get snacks. Then they do organized sports activities that are centered around an academic theme. And then they are fed supper before they leave us in the afternoon,” says Robbin Temples..
Donnell may be 6’8″ tall. But that doesn’t stop him from kneeling to help tie a shoe of one of the kids in his program.
“With me, it’s not about me anymore. I feel like God done blessed me to be in a position to be able to bless other people. So it’s really His work. It has nothing to do with me. It’s really His work,” says Harvey.