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Why Foster Riley thanks the Boys & Girls Club for changing his path in life

by Jenni Carlson Published: July 6, 2014

Foster Riley cried when he heard that the Boys & Girls Club had a flood, that an overnight thunderstorm sent water through the building, that the club would be closed for several days.

That’s how much it means to him.

“This was my only home, really,” he said.

Standing next to the 19-year-old as he talked, Kris Minnis raised an eyebrow.

“Your only home?” she said. “Really?”

The woman who Riley now calls his mom elbowed him in the ribs, and both broke into laughter.

“How about your second home?” she said.

“Second home,” he agreed, still laughing.

It’s been two weeks since those rain waters flooded the Boys & Girls Club near NW 36th and Western. The carpet has been ripped up, the drywall has been replaced, and the hum of drying fans now mixes with the din of playing children. Insurance will cover some of the costs, but the final repair bill is going to run about $100,000.

Why should you care?

Allow Foster Riley to explain.

He wrestled and played basketball the past four years for Northwest Classen. Earlier this spring, he graduated high school. Later this summer, he will report for basic training in the Army. And none of that would’ve happened without the Boys & Girls Club.

“If this wasn’t available to me ... right now I’d be in jail,” Riley said standing in the club’s rec room. “Just to be honest, that’s where I’d be.”

By his own admission, Riley was a messed-up kid when he started going to the club in sixth grade. His dad wasn’t part of his life, and his mom was struggling to provide any stability.

The result?

Riley was stealing from stores, getting into fights, carrying a knife. Not yet a teenager, he was headed down a dark path. Continue on it, and the fallout would be destructive to him, harmful to others and costly to all.

Then, Riley met Kris Minnis.

She went to the Boys & Girls Club when she was growing up in Kansas, and she believes being a club kid saved her life. So, Miss Kris went to work at the club in hopes of having the same impact on other kids.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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Donations to the Boys & Girls Club of Oklahoma County can be made online at To support the club after its recent flood, type the word “flood” into the “in honor” area.


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