Top of the Morning, Dec. 9, 2018

Top of the Morning, Dec. 9, 2018

In between two heart transplants, Wayne Turner founded a mentoring program that to this day is benefitting Champaign-Urbana kids.

"God left me here for a reason," the 42-year-old lifelong resident of Champaign said, "and that was to make a difference. It was almost like a calling: to give back."

The Boyz2Men Mentoring Program (grades 6-12) meets weekly and travels frequently, the kids and a handful of adults using field trips to bond. In March, Turner will kick it up a notch by taking 15 students on a trip to Washington, D.C. Good grades — and behavior — figure in the selection process.

"Somebody looked out for me when I was younger," said Turner, who went to school at Dr. Howard, Edison and Champaign Central (Class of '92). "I want to do the same."

We'll tell more of Turner's story ahead of a Boyz2Men fundraiser on Dec. 29 at Attie's in Urbana (call him at 217-841-7433 or William Darrell at 217-552-4157 for ticket info; the event is headlined by 'What They See Is What They Will Be' and includes Ryan Byfield & Nuclei as well as Chris Hightower).

Turner, who has four children of his own, worries how gun violence in C-U is impacting the teen-agers he huddles with on Tuesday nights at the Neves Group Building on Bradley Avenue. This week's session drew 20 kids, two speakers and a handful for homegrown men with sound advice to share.

"My philosophy," Turner said, "is to reach the kids before they get out of hand. Everybody thinks these kids are born bad, but at some point they had good in them."

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