This year will mark the 18th annual Julius De Loatche Summer Basketball Camp. The free basketball camp for girls and boys in grades 5-8 is held each year in memory of Julius De Loatche who died in a house fire March 3, 1999. Julius was just ten years old and played on Christ Lutheran’s 5th grade basketball team.
Rev. James De Loatche and wife Reimer founded the camp as a nonprofit organization in July 1999 to help children in the community as well as a means of coping with the loss of their only son. Many of the participants are from single parent homes and need help with back to school supplies as well as mentoring. In conjunction with the Dream Center (Peoria) where the annual camp is held, the camp provides fully equipped school back packs, cash awards, T-shirts and medallions free to all participants. An awards banquet is held at the end of camp with a free full-course meal for all participants and their families. The goal is to promote family unity and togetherness.
The camp has been able to sustain itself through tax-deductible donations from businesses and concerned citizens. Over the past 18 years more than one thousand free back packs and over $8,000.00 in cash has been awarded to participants. The goal is to keep kids off the streets and mentor them to be good citizens using basketball as the attraction.
Eric Cameroun and Rodney Fields, long time volunteer coaches, have dedicated themselves to helping the kids of the camp for over fourteen years. Rev. Cedric Shumate and wife, Marlene serve as camp board members and volunteers for many years.
The free camp this year runs on five Saturdays, (1 – 3 pm.) from July 8th through August 5th at the Dream Center, 714 Hamilton Blvd.
The top three participants based on attitude, respect, punctuality and basketball skills receive $100, $50, and $25. Four receive $20 merit awards. All players receive fully equipped school back packs, T-shirts and medallions. Registration will be accepted the first day of camp and online at www.juliusbball.org.
Rev. De Loatche says the camp is essential for the kids to see something different from the crime some of them see on the streets. Beyond the streets, he knows that his son is looking down at the camp, raining smiles to know so much is being done in his memory.
Concerned citizens may volunteer or send tax-deductible donations to: Julius De Loatche Basketball Camp, 2310 W. Moss Avenue, West Peoria, IL 61604.