RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - With a dollar and a dream, Coach Wendall Tomlin and his wife Regina, started “Prosperity for Kids,” in 2015. It’s an after-school program, geared towards young men.
Every day, roughly 20 kids get picked up from school and go to a refurbished garage to play various sports, but it’s not all fun and games.
“You can’t do anything unless you get that homework and 20 minutes of reading done,” said Tomlin.
He’s coach, father, uncle, and big brother to all the boys. From a pair of cleats to food, whatever they need, he’s there.
“I just want to be a bridge to help them get to the next level,” said Tomlin. “Whether it be sports, whether it be academics. However I can help out, I want to be a bridge.”
Denise Jones is seeing positive changes in her son Kayden, because of the program.
“There’s a lot of young boys there in that age group and they can be a handful,” said Jones. "And coach Wendell is there every day making sure they’re keeping their heads together and working hard, staying focused, so they can be great successes. It’s like another home for the boys; they love it there.”
She wanted to see the program grow so she reached out to NBC 12 to surprise Coach Wendall - a small thank you to a man that’s supporting the kids in his community.
But this story, almost wasn’t written.
“In 2011, I was diagnosed with cancer,” said Tomlin.
At the time, "Prosperity for Kids" wasn't even a thought, and he was simply coaching football. He stepped aside to take care of his health, but the kids couldn't stay away.
“The kids would show up to my house, and they would say, ‘coach, come on man. Get up, we got to do something,'" said Tomlin. "It went from five kids in my living room, to 10 kids in my living room, to 20 kids in my living room.”
That’s how the program got started, in the midst of a storm. Tomlin says he’s motivated by his second chance at life.
If the measure of man is how he handles his responsibilities, look no further than Coach Wendall Tomlin. In the midst of the fight of his life, he selflessly saw a need, and once he was healthy again, he put even more responsibility on his shoulders.
And he’s changing lives, one day at a time.
“Come as you are, and lets just try to win together at life," said Tomlin.
The organization is looking to get out of the garage and get a larger building to serve more kids. Make a donation here.