March 2, 2014

Helping kids stay kids

12th annual Stake Dinner to feature Roadrunners coach Ingle

By Christopher Smith

— For Robbie Slocumb, “society at large” has created a “culture” where everything in life is expected to come quick and easy.

“And kids grow up fast as a result,” he added. “It’s all fast, fast, fast. Fast-food. Get everything fast. Grow up fast. I think we push kids on through life too quickly nowadays.”

So the Boys and Girls Clubs Serving Chattooga, Gordon, Murray and Whitfield Counties is vital, Slocumb, a chief professional officer with the organization, said. It helps roughly 1,900 kids in the area “stay kids” by offering after-school care, homework help and physical activities like learning to ride a bike, among other programs, Slocumb said. But the organization can’t do it alone.

The organization is planning its 12th annual Stake Dinner, set for Ryman Hall on Thursday, March 13, at 6:30 p.m. The fundraiser is crucial for the organization, said Jason Finnell, director of development, and accounts for “roughly 10 percent of our yearly operating budget ... and is the biggest event we host.”

The speaker for the event is Tony Ingle, coach of the Dalton State College men’s basketball team that finished its season with a 26-4 record on Tuesday. Ingle will speak about struggles in his early coaching career, including going 0-18 as interim head coach in 1997 for Brigham Young University in Utah, and how he has persevered in his 31 years in coaching.

Finnell said picking Ingle to speak “made a lot of sense.”

“Coach Ingle was a logical choice,” he said. “Once we sat down and looked at the options, he was the best pick. It wasn’t even an option. He has a lot of momentum and  excitement around his program. He is a dynamic speaker and he has an incredible story.”

There are several levels of support available. A table of eight costs $2,500 and individual tickets, which are limited, are $200. Finnell said the event has sold roughly 200 of 300 seats so far, raising approximately $60,000. Anyone interested in purchasing tickets can call (706) 529-5032 or visit

“I am thankful we have this event,” Finnell said. “It’s something we can count on for local support.”

Slocumb said the event will “bring awareness to what we are doing at the clubs.”

“My hope is that we bring in others that don’t know about us and educate them on what we do,” he said. “We’re here to build up kids, give them a push and put them in a place where they can learn and grow, get into college, vocational school or the military, and learn the building blocks of life like sharing and communication.”