The WBIR Torch Run Thursday benefited United Way and some of the runners took a leg of the relay to show support for a specific United Way agency. One of those groups ran for The Emerald Youth Foundation.
The Emerald Youth Foundation serves more than 1,300 young people including 9 year old Shakia Holland.
"When I came here it was like I was nervous. And then my friend, her name is Tiana, and she came and said do you want to sit right here and I said yes and I was like this could be good. So I got the hang of it and I just kept coming," Shakia said.
She just keeps coming to the after school JustLead Ministry.
"It's something that you learn. They have things like math, science, language, and social studies," she said.
Just Lead Coordinator Jovette Johnson says the program for elementary and middle school kids is more than that. It's about relationships.
"When we're building those relationships with kids we're getting to know those families and we can help them in ways that they may not necessarily know that they need that help," Jovette Johnson said.
John Crooks with the Emerald Youth Foundation said, "We're very neighborhood focused. It's about being in the neighborhoods and helping the kids rise up right there in their communities so that they ultimately are leading in those communities as they grow up."
John Crooks explained that JustLead is one of the Emerald Youth Foundations three main programs.
"JustLead which is our after school leadership program for kids. Emerald Youth Fellows which serves our 18 to 25 year olds, young adults in that transition from high school to college. And then Emerald Youth Sports which is pretty self explanatory, all of our athletics and sports for kids," he said. "The overall mission of the Emerald Youth Foundation is to raise up our young people to love Jesus Christ and raise them up so they will ultimately help renew their communities right here in Knoxville."
It's a serious mission accomplished with love.
Shakia said, "Happy. That way I don't have to be home bored."