The Week of Champions will go on.
The organization, which provides a week of free sports clinics for area youth run with the help of former professional athletes, faced a winter of change after the 34th Week of Champions in June.
The yearly event, which has put thousands of local youths in contact with former professional athletes that teach, not only the game, but faith in God, has long been run solely on the backs of volunteers.
But longtime volunteers Gary and Wanda Weatherington, as well as Greg and Connie Brezina, stepped down last summer, leaving a leadership void and questions about the future of the organization.
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Cary Corbitt, chairman of the Week of Champions board of directors, announced Tuesday that the organization had agreed to partner with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to continue providing area athletes the opportunity to grow athletically and spiritually.
"We've now structured Week of Champions so that it can move forward," Corbitt said. "I think this is the opportunity that makes the Week of Champions absolutely have a future, and a bright future. The individuals involved with FCA and with the Week of Champions board, we've all embraced this with open hearts and open arms."
Corbitt, who said he originally broached the idea with some organizers a year or so ago, did a lot of praying and meeting with others in search of a solution.
"It just seemed to be a natural fit," Corbitt said. "For so long, Gary and Wanda were running Week of Champions almost single-handedly."
Corbitt said organizers wouldn't consider continuing the program unless there was a mechanism to continue ministering to the youth. FCA was a logical choice since they also have programs that continue throughout the year.
The FCA has hired Chuck Workman as a part-time staff member. In addition to leading its local camp ministries, Workman, a registered nurse and the youth director at First Baptist Church Hilton Head Island, will be the director for Week of Champions.
"The goal of FCA is to see the world impacted by Jesus Christ and that's what we'll continue to structure (Week of Champions) around," Workman said. "It's been a tremendous honor to get to know Gary and Wanda Weatherington. Just to be a part of the ministry they created 34 years ago will be a fantastic experience."
Corbitt has no doubts Workman is the right guy for the job.
"I spent 45 minutes with him and I was convinced that this was an opportunity for the Week of Champions to positively move forward in a wonderful, wonderful direction."
Corbitt and Workman both said there will be restructuring within the Week of Champions, but it will be a process over time and neither is sure exactly what the change will be.
But Corbitt, who has already spoken with all of the athletes who took part last year, knows one thing that will stay the same.
"We will offer camps that are free of charge to the kids," Corbitt said. "That is paramount to what we want to do. That won't change."
Workman and his wife, Tara, have been spending time with the Weatheringtons, soaking up all they can as they move forward. Corbitt said the Weatheringtons will be "as involved as they want," though he feels it will likely be on the periphery.
"Week of Champions would not be where it was if not for them," Corbitt said.
Workman realizes the hard work it has taken to keep the Week of Champions running for 34 years.
"It's truly a relational success, not just with Jesus Christ, but with friends, outreaching across the United States," Workman said. "Athletes have already started emailing their support. It's because of the relationships that Gary and Wanda had and because we're serving who we do."
This year's Week of Champions will be held June 17-21.