There were star athletes inside the South Pointe High School gymnasium Saturday – but they weren’t the stars. There were pastors from Baptist churches and Methodist churches and non-denominational churches, but they were not front and center.
Saturday at the second Gratitude is Attitude event, the big shots were Rock Hill’s kids. More than a thousand of them, from all parts of the city. The kids were from tiny to teen. They were all colors and from all kinds of families, and the refrain for each and every one of them was that each is an MVP.
Not Most Valuable Player; Most Valuable Person.
For more than 20 years, Rock Hill chiropractor Winslow Schock and his wife, Glenda, have put on a “Cheer for Children” event to give supplies, and hope and love, to children. All the school supplies and gift bags are donated . All the work is done by volunteers from every corner of the city. There is never any test to see if a child qualifies. All qualify. All are welcome and all show up in droves for the event held yearly at one of Rock Hill’s high schools.
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This was no school assembly with students sitting down. It was dancing and hula hooping and conga lines. It was joy and hundreds of volunteers bringing kids by church bus and activity bus and old school buses and cars and minivans for the single reason of celebrating all these kids who make a city not a place, but more.
“Gratitude is the expression of joy and love,” said the Rev. Mike Poore of First Wesleyan Church, who opened the raucous affair with a prayer which was about the only time the huge crowd was quiet. “Gratitude is compassion and kindness. It is a community of hope.”
And there it was, those words in the gym – a community.
“This is what Rock Hill is supposed to look like,” said Ronnie Aiton, who runs the Kids for Jesus bus ministry that gives rides to area programs for free. “Rock Hill is supposed to be filled with the joyous faces of children who are loved by us all. Kids who only need the rest of us to help them be great in their lives. All they need is the rest of us to care about them.”
There were volunteers and kids waving signs that said “gentleness” and “believe” and so much more.
The belief is is in the kids themselves.
“It is great,” said Samoria Dickerson, 8, “to know that everybody here believes in me.”
Bobby Isom, who runs a basketball camp, showed countless kids how to spin a basketball on the tips of fingers. He did it for all who asked, over and over. Every kid succeeded, if even for just a few seconds. There was never a bigger smile than when Denzell Duggan, 10 years old, spun that basketball in that gym.
“This whole event, gratitude, is to show every child that we are grateful for them and that we all must help them,” said Isom.
There were huge banners for all to sign.
There were dance teams and football teams and cheerleading squads in jerseys and uniforms. The older kids helped the younger kids. Everybody who is a kid – the future of a city – left with not just stuff, but a sense of love and caring and togetherness.
Winslow Schock, the chiropractor who has invested in children for 20-plus years, said near the end of the event that he never tires of spending months at a time – the whole year, actually – collecting donations and organizing. He has given away a million pens and notebooks and sweatshirts and backpacks and basketballs and smiles.
He surveyed the gym that shook with the joy of a thousand kids jumping rope and singing and laughing while surrounded by adults who were there not to tamp down that joy, but let it erupt.
Most Valuable Person?
“Everybody here can be great and is great,”Schock said. “Every child here is an MVP.”