Knoxville’s Emerald Youth Foundation and former University of Tennessee football player Inquoris “Inky” Johnson will host a golf tournament at Egwani Farms Golf Course on Tuesday, Oct. 2, to benefit a sports program for inner city children.
Emerald Youth Sports, a year-round program of athletic leagues, teams and clinics for children living in the heart of Knoxville, will be beneficiary. Through Emerald Youth Sports, about 400 boys and girls play on coached teams including swimming, volleyball, basketball and wrestling. Baseball and soccer also are offered.
Regal Entertainment Group is presenting sponsor of the “Emerald Youth Golf Classic with Inky Johnson.” Registration and lunch are at 11 a.m. with a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. An awards ceremony, including dinner, will conclude the days’ activities.
Sponsorships range from a $300 tee sponsor to a $5,000 All-Star Sponsor, with many support options in between. For information, please visit www.emeraldyouth.org, call Maggie Meyers at 865.637.3227 x. 105 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sports programs for city kids are a shared passion for Emerald Youth and Johnson, who worked as sports and health coordinator at Emerald Youth in 2011. Sports make up a key piece to the ministry of Emerald Youth, a faith-based organization that serves more than 1,200 children and youth in 14 inner city Knoxville neighborhoods.
Johnson, who had an impoverished upbringing in Atlanta’s Kirkwood neighborhood, says he has a heart for city children. When he was a child, Johnson shared a two-bedroom, one bath house with 13 relatives. He often tells audiences that his discovery of sports at a young age saved him from the dangers of the streets.
Johnson said that involvement in sports not only kept him out of trouble, but that it offered positive influences. He said athletics teach children life lessons, offer them hope, and bring them the influence and encouragement of supportive adults.
“I am very passionate about city kids. I was an inner city kid, and I know what being an inner city kid can bring – poverty, disadvantage, and violence,” Johnson said. “Sports are a great platform that God provides. They are a source of hope.”
In 2004, Johnson joined the UT football team after then-Head Coach Phillip Fulmer recruited him from Crim High School. A lightning-fast cornerback, Johnson suffered a near-fatal nerve injury during a 2006 game his junior year. The injury paralyzed Johnson’s right arm and ended his football career.
Now Johnson is an inspirational speaker who travels the country, renowned for his dramatic testimony of hope about his experience. He lives in his hometown Atlanta, with his wife, Allison, daughter Jada, 2, and his son, Inquoris Jr., 1. He mentors inner city youth, and everywhere he goes, he tells people to encourage and look out for city kids.
“I would like to see a lot of people’s hearts touched. I want to see a transformation in the inner city,” Johnson said.
“Emerald Youth Foundation does a great work. It raises up indigenous leaders, and its sports programs are growing stronger and stronger. Emerald Youth is saving lives. Any time you save one kid, you’re saving more than one, because you’re saving a whole generation.”
The tournament is also sponsored in part by WATE, The Sports Animal, Lamar and the Knoxville Focus.