Chattanooga has its share summer programs for kids, but there's one that's aiming to positively impact lives through sport. The organization formed after a couple noticed a spike in gun violence among youth in the community and wanted to set the next generation on the right path.
Their name is the ‘Chattanooga Thunder Track Club,’ a new track program designed to help kids in the inner city live healthier lives and get off the streets.
"I’ve lived in the city all my life, I love Chattanooga and when there was five shootings a week my wife and I knew we had to do something,” said Founder Will Smith.
During the summer, there's an uptick in crime, it's why the program aims to get kids at a young age off the couch. Smith knows it's something that will get kids out of trouble and stay on track.
"The 30 kids that are here they won't be involved and that's the best thing me and my wife can do."
The program has taken off in just one year,” Smith said. 31 runners went to a regional competition and 12 qualified to go to the junior Olympic in Lawrence, Kansas.
"We work hard for it and it's fun and we go to track meets and stuff and work together to get into places in the regional," said Runner, Mariah Ivery. But right now, the team doesn't have funds to go and they're scrambling to raise money.
“These kids run every day in 90 degree weather, everyday hour and a half sometimes two hours, they work their heart out and they deserve to go, they deserve to go,” Smith said.
For some track is just a sport, for these kids it means a lot more.
"That last 20 meters you want to give up but there's something on the inside of you that keeps you pushing and that's the same thing in life. They’re going to take what they're learning in track and implement them in their lives,” James Ward.
The team leaves for the junior Olympics next week. To find out how you can support visit their website.