Choices and priorities called keys to success

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Last month at the Olympic Games in Athens, Duane Ross was one race away from a shot at a medal. The Clayton, N.C. native lined up at the start of the 110-hurdles, and the gun went off. Just over 13 seconds later, Ross crossed the finish line – in fifth place, putting him out of contention.

Taking a dejected walk back toward his team, Ross saw a woman in a similar position. One of the best hurdlers in the world, she’d also failed to make it to the final round, and was sitting near the track, weeping.

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He sat down to speak to her, and tried to think of some comforting words.

&uot;I said, ‘You tried your best,’&uot; Ross told the 15th group of King’s Kids of America on Saturday evening at the Faith Temple Church. &uot;Your body’s hurting, but you know what you can do, and you did your best.’&uot;

The woman looked at him, and his smile made its way through her tears. At that moment, Ross realized that he might not have come to the Games to bring home a medal.

&uot;It might not have been my purpose to win,&uot; he said, &uot;but to be there for someone else. Everyone can’t be winners all the time.&uot;

A 1999 World Outdoor bronze medallist and 1998 USA Indoor 60-hurdles champion, Ross has &uot;been an athlete for pretty much my entire life. But my discipline came from (the church). It kept me focused on the right track.

&uot;The keys to success, I believe, are choices and priorities. God, family, friends. If you keep those in order, you will come out a winner.&uot;

That’s just one of several messages that the organization has been spreading to local youths since 1989. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays, groups meet at six sites across the city to learn about developing into spiritually, mentally, emotionally, socially and financially sound people who can be positive assets to their community.

After senator Fred Quayle read a proclamation from the General Assembly commending the organization, executive director Betty Knight brought the children into the meeting.

&uot;Who are we?&uot; she asked.

&uot;King’s Kids!&uot; they responded.

&uot;Who’s the king?&uot;

&uot;Jesus Christ!&uot;

&uot;Who do we love?&uot;

&uot;Jesus Christ!&uot;

They then sang the King’s Kids theme song, a parody of &uot;We are the world.&uot;

&uot;We are the King’s Kids,&uot; they sang, &uot;It’s a choice we’re making, to let Jesus change our lives, and that will make a better day for you and me!&uot;

A few of the older members of the organization shared their own experiences. A 12-year veteran of the group, LaToya Ward graduated from Nansemond River High School and is now an insurance specialist at Obici Hospital.

&uot;King’s Kids influenced my life at an early age,&uot; she said. &uot;I’ll be forever thankful to King’s Kids. Children in public housing already have so many stats against them, but King’s Kids spreads the word of the Lord, because children are our future.&uot;

A member since its inception, Ashanti Ruffin now teaches chemistry at Lakeland. &uot;I’m a proud product of King’s Kids, because it let me know that it’s OK to be alone, alone to walk a narrow path,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s OK to be different in a lot of ways, and it gives me the motivation to be who I am today. Even while I’m teaching, I can see the difference in the people from King’s Kids as opposed to the general population.&uot;

After racing to a gold in the 4X400 relay in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, LaTasha Colander, whose grandfather Obadiah was a co-founder of King’s Kids, won the 100-meter at the 2004 U.S. Olympic trials, then finished eighth at the Athens games.

&uot;You can’t fail with God,&uot; she told the kids. &uot;God is love, and love never fails. When we receive Jesus Christ into our lives, we are saved. We may get married, we may go to college, but it’s all part of the process that God has, because we all serve Him.

&uot;There are people around us that may become Christians and fall off,&uot; she said, &uot;but if we made the choice a long time ago to serve with our mind, our body and our soul, we will succeed. Even right now, the Lord is leading us. When you go out for the Lord, go out with your whole heart and all your courage, because you are conquerors for Christ, and God sees your heart.&uot;

Later on, the following children won bikes donated by Wal-Mart: Sha’ka Miller, Kawon Hunter, Jasmine Walden, R’Zhamonta Franklin, Kris Steward, D’Andre Butts, Myesha Butts, Fernando Holland, Elyshia Grant, Blake Sawyer, Kendra Sawyer.