Chris Tutt's dream is coming true.
The creator of a new football camp to be held at Thomson High School on June 12 is pulling out all the stops and reaching out in many directions for his community.
Not only is the camp in memory of a former Thomson High teacher and football coach, the late Larry Wiley, but all of the proceeds will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Thomson.
"This is kind of a way for me to give back to worthy causes such as (the Boys and Girls Club)," Mr. Tutt said.
The camp, which is designed for kids eight through 18, will include instruction from Thomson coaches as well as current and former college and professional players. Garrison Hearst and Chris Mohr head up the list of big names scheduled to come to the camp, a list that may get longer before it starts.
One big local name that will definitely be in attendance is University of Georgia Linebacker Danny Verdun Wheeler, Mr. Tutt's younger brother who was the inspiration behind the start of the camp.
"My brother's junior year, when I got to taking him to camp, I really found out a lot of kids weren't able to go to camp," Mr. Tutt said. "So I just had a good idea that if they can't go to try to start bringing it here to them."
Registration will take place at 7 a.m., and the participants will then stretch and break into groups by position. Lectures from coaches and players will start at 3:30 p.m., and parents are encouraged to attend.
Mr. Tutt feels there are too many football players coming out of high schools today that don't have the grades to get them into playing at the college level. He said the aim of the camp is to emphasize the importance of education while teaching the fundamentals of football.
"We're not just teaching football that day," Mr. Tutt said. "We're just basically teaching citizenship, education and also they get information about football. ... They're going to learn a lot, but they're also going to learn you can't just play football. You have to be educated also."
And one of the people who instilled the importance of education in Mr. Tutt will be honored at the camp. A plaque will be given to Coach Wiley's wife thanking him for all he did to help the youth of McDuffie County.
"(Coach Wiley) wasn't so much concerned about us on the football field, but he had a lot of concern with us getting an education," Mr. Tutt said. "You can't have one without the other. He was just that type of visionary."
Pecola Wiley, wife of the late Coach Wiley, was delighted to hear the news that her husband would be honored by his former students during the camp.
"The camp itself, I believe, is something that Larry stood for, and that was always reaching out for someone else," Mrs. Wiley said. "It's a wonderful feeling to know that he is remembered in the way that he is and the impact that he had on Chris' life."
The deadline for signing up for the $50 camp is May 20. For more information or to register, contact Mr. Tutt at 495-8838 or 597-0675.