Thoughts from the executive

August 01, 2010

Reclaiming Our Communities

On Monday, August 2 at 5:30 pm you and I are being asked to participate in a community rally called Reclaiming Our Communities. If you want to see why I will attend and why our Y has made every effort to support the organizing efforts, read In Honor of Courtney Graham.

As another homicide unfolds in the service area of the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA, I keep thinking about Amber DuBois and Chelsea King and how the community response led to supporting the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of John Gardner along with new legislation that might stop the next tragic loss of life.

Courtney Graham, 25 had been coming to our YMCA since he was four years old. There are fifty-two gang sets in our YMCA service area.

Please take a moment to read Courtney's obituary. When you do you will find the following:

  • Courtney Dan Keever Graham was born April 14, 1985 to his devoted and loving parents Dan L. Graham and Kristy L. Mckinney in San Diego, California.
  • At the young age of 4, he started playing T-Ball at the Jackie Robinson YMCA where his passion for sports grew.
  • His early education was received at Webster Elementary School.
  • He attended San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts where he learned one of his numerous talents: Photography.
  • During his high school years Courtney attended Crawford High School where he played both football and basketball.
  • After graduation, Courtney enrolled at Southwestern College where he continued to play football, while taking courses in general education and computer science.
  • Courtney GrahamHe loved his family, and his pride and joy was his nephew and niece, who he introduced to everyone.
  • His humility allowed him to inspire others, which is one of the many reasons he got along well with everyone both white and black alike.
  • He was a personable, intelligent, and motivating young man; who was always “Going Hard” for what he believed in and doing so in a positive manner.
  • Courtney or “CoCo” (as he was affectionately known by his family) was always curious for the next level of technology. This interest allowed him to often make late night trips with his best friend Derrick to Borders Bookstore on a quest to learn something new.
  • Courtney loved computers and often repaired and helped rebuild them for friends and family.
  • He photographed local artists for their album covers, created graphics, websites and logos.
  • Courtney had a list of ideas beyond measure in his gifted mind. He possessed an amazing entrepreneurial spirit, which he was in the process of unleashing to the world, all while drinking his beloved cup of coffee.
  • He was very excited about working at the Comic-Con Convention for his second year in addition to his day job at Belmont Park in Mission Beach.
  • Courtney was preceded in death by his father in 2006 and his mother in 2007.
  • He is survived by his Grandmother, Henrietta Ayers; Sister, Teariny Ballard; Nephew and Niece, Khristien and Khori Hilliard; Aunts, Mary Murrell and Donna Ayers of Memphis,TN; Uncles Walter and Joe Nathan Ayers; Cousins, Cheryl, Stacey and Toni Murrell, Christopher, Danielle and Nikia Ayers, Maeghan and Tyler-Lynne Murrell.
  • Although his life was brought to an abrupt end, his light will continue to shine in all of us.
Unlike the closure that came when the one responsible for taking Amber and Chelsea's life was removed from civil society; those responsible for the deaths of Aaron Cooper, 15 (8/12/2006), Monique Palmer, 17 (12/6/2008), Michael Taylor, 15 (12/6/2008), Donnell Davis Jr., 15 (3/16/2008), Brandon Johnson, 16 (3/16/2008), and Courtney Graham, 25 (7/20/2010) are still at large. These names only represent a few of the unsolved homicides with a connection to the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA. There are many, many more that need the support of every San Diego County resident to insure every community is reclaimed.

Be sure that everyone you love visits http://www.sdcrimestoppers.com and http://psnsandiego.org in honor of those that have lost their lives and in response to the following crime reports from the service area of the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA over the past two weeks:
Then, join me at Reclaiming Our Communities tomorrow night (Monday, August 2) at 5:30 pm. Leading this effort are Mario Lewis, Owner/Operator of Imperial Barbershop and Courtney Graham's best friend Derrick Banks who works with Mario. Please join them in this movement that will make a difference for the kids and families living in San Diego County's most critical community.

Life is not a spectator sport. If you`re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you`re wasting your life.
Jackie Robinson

Follow Michael Brunker at http://twitter.com/michaelbrunker

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